McGee ready to kick on after strong finish

Julien Guerrier wins Irish Challenge with McGee the leading home player

Irish Challenge winnerJulien Guerrier from France plays a tee shot during the final round at Mount Wolseley. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

Irish Challenge winnerJulien Guerrier from France plays a tee shot during the final round at Mount Wolseley. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

 

Derry’s Ruaidhri McGee claimed the Christy O’Connor Jnr Memorial Trophy as the leading Irishman in the Irish Challenge hosted by Mount Wolseley Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort.

As Frenchman Julien Guerrier turned his one-stroke overnight lead into a six-shot win to consolidate second place in the Road to Oman standings, McGee closed with a third successive 69 to finish tied 15th on six-under par and give his confidence a boost heading into a crucial stage of the season.

“It’s great,” said the 26-year old, who is hoping now to finish the season strongly, starting with this week’s €450,000 Kazakhstan Open. “This is my home tournament and to come out as the top Irishman as well, I’m delighted.”

Clutching the Waterford Crystal trophy awarded to the top Irishman in memory of the late Ryder Cup star and Mount Wolseley designer O’Connor Jnr, McGee added: “It was a motivation for sure, and I was definitely thinking about it out there today, trying to make some birdies to see if I could clinch this lovely trophy.

“Growing up as a young Irish golfer, Christy Jnr was a big inspiration, so I am honoured. And he did a good job here at Mount Wolseley, especially on the greens.”

Forced to take more than month off in the summer to rest a niggling shoulder injury, McGee still has work to do to make the top 45 in the rankings who will contest the season-ending NBO Golf Classic Grand Final in Oman.

Good form

But he certainly showed signs of good form as he made seven birdies in the final round, including five in eight holes in an outward half of 32.

“It’s been a decent week for me,” he said. “I left a few shots out there coming in today, but after shooting 75 on Thursday, if you had offered me a share of 15th, I’d have taken it.

“I had to take over a month off in the summer to rest a shoulder injury, so that wasn’t ideal.

“But I am healthy now and this is the time of year you want to be playing well so with five events left, it’s still all to play for to make the top 45 who make the Grand Final.”

After holing a wedge for an eagle two on the 18th on Friday just to make the cut, Moyola Park’s Chris Selfridge holed an eight iron from 155 yards for another eagle two at the 15th as he closed with a 70 to finish tied 33rd on level par.

Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin slipped to tied 41st on one-over after a 74 with Castleknock native David Carey two shots further back in 48th after a 72.

As for Guerrier, he was just one clear of Oscar Lengden (72) overnight but closed with a five-under-par 67 to win by six strokes from the Swede, England’s Steven Brown (69) and Norway’s Jarand Ekeland Arnoy (70) on 17-under par to claim the €28,800 top prize.

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