The Walker Cup-winning hero, who turned professional following last September’s defeat of the USA at Royal Lytham and has been cutting his teeth on the Challenge Tour, fired a second-round 71 yesterday to get to one-under par at the halfway stage in Kildare, comfortably inside the cutline and looking forward to a first weekend’s play on the European Tour.
That will more than compensate for the disappointment of missing out on winning the BMW i8 electric sports car for a hole in one at the par-three 12th, although he did go awfully close. Moynihan watched his seven-iron tee shot travel the 182 yards and just miss right of the hole.
“Up last, lucky we were,” Moynihan said. “JB (Hansen, his playing partner) put it in water, so we took one more to be sure. Nice draw in, pitched lovely and nearly went in, to just two inches. That would have been nice. Just sat right behind the right lip.”
For Moynihan, 21, the Irish Amateur Open’s youngest champion at 17 in 2012, the bigger picture was an Irish Open made cut achieved at the fourth attempt.
“I played well. I had one hiccup on 16, not a great lie, grass growing into me, couldn’t judge the wind and caught it a bit fat (for double bogey). Apart from that, every shot I was pretty good. One under par was probably the worst I could score.
“Delighted as for last three years I’ve been so close as amateur. I missed by one shot the first year, then two and one. It was kind of in my head coming down the stretch, but it was good.”
Moynihan finds himself starting today’s third round in a tie with 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell, who shot a level-par 72, and 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, whose one-under 71 was highlighted by a stretch of four birdies in a row around the turn.
Both Moynihan and McDowell had enjoyed the best of the day’s weather, McGinley on the late-starting half of the draw had to battle the elements as the rain that had hampered him early on Thursday returned with a vengeance yesterday afternoon.
With more rain forecast throughout today’s play, McDowell believes the winning total will be around the 10-under par mark.
“I don’t think it will get much past 10,” McDowell said. “You have two quality players up there, Rory (McIlroy, on seven-under) and Danny (Willett, co-leading with Marc Warren on eight-under), who are capable of shooting low.
“I haven’t had a real in-depth look but it doesn’t look too good. Fingers crossed, we will get a few people in through the gates and we’ll have a bit of craic and see if I can make a bit of a move.”
Also safely into the weekend was European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, whose one-under 71 got him to level par.
So too are Moynihan’s Walker Cup teammates and fellow rookie pros Gary Hurley, whose 71 put him at level, and Paul Dunne, a 75 sending him back to one-over, a position he occupies alongside Kevin Phelan, who shot a 70.
For Hurley, who only received an invite to the tournament on Monday following a fourth-place finish at last Sunday’s Challenge Tour event in Italy, there was plenty to smile about.
“It was late. I was told there was one (invitation) left, either Sunday night or Monday morning but I didn’t hear anything when I landed so I thought maybe it had gone to someone else. So when Rory (Flanagan, his manager) rang me I was absolutely delighted they chose me and I’m happy I justified it by making the cut.
“Hopefully I can have two more good rounds and shoot up the leaderboard.”
Not so happy and facing a weekend at home was Padraig Harrington, whose level-par 72 could not rescue him from a damaging first-round, four-over 76, while also among those missing the cut were Peter Lawrie, Ruaidhri McGee and Michael Hoey.