Gavin Moynihan survived a war of attrition with his teenage clubmate Kevin LeBlanc to win his second Irish Amateur Open in the space of four years and seal his return to the Walker Cup team.
The 20-year-old from Portrane went into the final round tied for the lead with 17-year old LeBlanc on six under par after a course record 65 on Saturday and came though to win by three shots on four under par 284 thanks to a gutsy performance on a tough Royal Dublin day.
Having played poorly early in the season and missed the cut in the Lytham Trophy in his previous start, the flame-haired Dubliner felt under huge pressure to deliver a result.
And he did it in style, carding two birdies and four bogeys in a two over 74 in winds gusting up to 40mph to win by three strokes from Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin (72) on four under par 284.
LeBlanc took six at the last four-putting from just off the green for a 78 and a tie for third with Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson (71). Nevertheless he showed he is a player with a massive future.
“Winning the first time was wonderful but I think this one is that little bit more special because I came in here struggling a bit,” said Moynihan, who is now a certainty to win his second Walker Cup cap at Royal Lytham and St Annes, from September 12-13. “At the start of the season and even a few weeks back, I just couldn’t wait to get back to Royal Dublin. The fact that I have played here four times now, missed the cut my first year and won twice and lost in a play-off the other, I just felt it was the week that could kickstart my year. And it has.”
One of nine first rounds leaders after an opening 69, Moynihan was caught in Friday afternoon’s storms and feared he could miss the cut after ballooning to seven over par through 10 holes.
But he dug deep to chisel out a 76 and then followed up with a sensational course record 65 on Saturday to snatch a share of the lead with the outstanding boys international LeBlanc, who turned 17 last Wednesday.
The duo from The Island held a four-stroke lead over the field starting the day and in what was a effectively a matchplay contest, the older of the two prevailed.
He almost drove the downwind, 400-yard first to edge in front, matched LeBlanc’s birdie at the second and turned two ahead as he went out in one under 34 to his rival’s 36.
Even when he bogeyed the 10th, 11th and 13th in the worst of the wind, LeBlanc bogeyed the first three holes coming home and both men missed outside chances from the 14th to the 17th before LeBlanc took six at the 18th, four-putting from just off the front of the green as Moynihan played safe to the left and got up and down from 67 yards for par and a famous win.
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