Golf

Damien McGrane went close to victory. Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images
Damien McGrane went close to victory. Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images
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A sensational final round charge from Damien McGrane ultimately ended in double disappointment at the PGA Play-Offs, WRITES PAUL KELLY.

The Kells golfer began the day seven shots behind the eventual champion, Matthew Cort (Beedles Lakes GC), but forced himself into the reckoning with a blistering run of six birdies over the opening 10 holes at Saunton GC.

Neil O' Briain of Old Conna Golf Club qualified for a start at next year's PGA Championship. Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images

Neil O' Briain of Old Conna Golf Club qualified for a start at next year's PGA Championship. Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images

“At that stage, I could have been looking at a nine under par round,” said Damien.

The 45 year old briefly led midway through the final round but his putter suddenly went cold on the back nine and a bogey at the par four 16th effectively ended his chances. He signed for a best of the day five under par 66 to end two behind the winner.

He continued; “I gave myself chances on every hole on the first nine and slowly I picked off some of the birdies.

“Then it was back to my usual itchy, scratchy self on the back nine and I stopped holing the putts.

“To come here for four days and only have one decent score is very disappointing. The other three days I was not at the races at all.”

Damien finished in a share of third but lost out on a place on the PGA Cup team to Greig Hutcheon who birdied the first play-off hole.

His consolation is that he has earned a trip to play in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth next year alongside Neil O’Briain who closed out his tournament with a three under par 68 to finish fifth. The Old Conna pro saved his best round until last, bolstered by a chip in birdie at the 17th.

“I didn’t score as well as I should have but I’m very happy with the way that I hit the ball and controlled it in the wind,” said Neil.

“I have been working a lot on my swing and spending plenty of time practising my putting too. It will be nice to go home and tell my dad that I will be playing at Wentworth.”

Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance) fired a final round one over par 72 to slip to 11th and outside the top 10 places guaranteed a start at the BMW.

David Higgins signed for a final round 71 to end on four over par, tied for 16th.

Cort, who had twice finished a runner-up in the event, was delighted to finally get over the line.

“This caps off a great season. It is great to finish it number one,” he said.

As well as the £2,000 winner’s cheque, Cort has secured automatic places in next season’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and the British Masters. He will also play in the PGA Cup side along with second place Robert Coles and Hutcheon.

He added; “Scoring and ball striking-wise – this has been one of the most consistent years of my career. That gives me confidence to go on for next year.”

PGA Play-Offs

At Saunton Golf Club (East) (Par 71)

1 M Cort (Beedles Lake GC) -7

2 R Coles (Maylands Golf & CC) -6

3 G Hutcheon (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre Inchma) -5

4 D McGrane -5

5 N O'Briain (Old Conna GC) -3

6 P Archer (Birchwood GC) -3

7 C Gane (Left Handed Golf at Silvermere) -1

8 G Fox (Clydeway Golf) -1

9 P Streeter (Lincoln GC) -1

10 P Hendriksen (Ivybridge GC) -1