Moynihan pumped by closing birdies

Two birdies in his closing three holes at least gave Gavin Moynihan something to celebrate on the occasion of his 21st birthday and in his first round as a pro on day one of the Italian Open at Monza.

There was a pump of his right fist when Moynihan rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the final hole in a score of a one over par 73 on the Milano Golf Club course.

It left the European Tour’s newest professional trailing 10 shots behind Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, who threaded his way through the tight, tree-lined course for a two-stroke lead courtesy of a nine-under-par 63 that included eight birdies in succession.

However for a second event in succession, all four days will be under a ‘preferred lie’ rule.

It has been a hectic four days for Moynihan following Sunday’s Walker Cup victory and then turning pro on Monday and little wonder he was delighted to finally get to the first tee on the course lying right beside the famed Monza Autodrome.

He got the perfect pro career start when he holed a 10-foot putt for birdie ahead of dropping shots at three, seven — where he found the trees with his tee shot — and then at eight, where he went with driver instead of three-wood while he bogeyed 11 from 10 feet.

However he just missed an eagle putt at 16 before a huge drive down the last and, after hitting six-iron in practice on Wednesday, it was just a wedge into 18 for birdie.

“I didn’t play that well at all and just wasn’t comfortable off a few of the tees, while I had a few lip-outs, as well,” he said. “It was just nice to get those couple of birdies in there at the end in what wasn’t a great round.

“Overall, I am just happy to get this first round under my belt, given I also was experiencing some nerves, more on the putting side than off the tee. So, if I can start tomorrow

like I finished today, then hopefully I should be here for all four rounds which would be great.”

Moynihan is out in the second group this morning at 7.40am local time, so any 21st celebration remains on hold until he returns home.

Paul McGinley and Peter Lawrie head the eight-man Irish contingent with four-under-par 68s, while Pádraig Harrington capped his round of 70 landing a six-iron to six feet at the par five 16th and holing the eagle putt.

Meanwhile, Ireland rounded off their Men’s Senior Home Internationals campaign with a crushing 7-3 win over Wales at Crowborough Beacon in Sussex yesterday.

However, they had to watch on as holders Scotland celebrated after beating England 5.5-4.5 to retain their title.

The results on a dramatic final afternoon left Ireland, England and Scotland all tied on four points after two wins and a defeat each, but rules state it is the holders who are victorious in the event of a tie, rather than it being decided by points difference.

Elsewhere, Dubliner Gertie McMullen narrowly missed out on Senior Ladies British Open Championship glory at Prestatyn on the North Wales coast, finishing three strokes adrift of Trentham’s Julie Brown.


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