Brian Casey, Paul McBride, Conor O’Rourke and Michael McGeady are in for a potentially life-changing week at Lahinch after the fab four booked their place at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by Paul McGinley.
With just four places on offer at the 36-hole €40,000 qualifier held at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort over the weekend, competition proved fierce as 134 players went in search of a golden ticket to County Clare this coming week.
Stars from the Challenge Tour, EuroPro and Alps Tour were joined by PGA in Ireland professionals and a selection of GUI panellists taking their chance and it was Headfort’s Casey who topped the board by three strokes after adding a three-under par 69 to his 66 on Saturday to set the bar at nine-under par.
“Sleeping on a lead is never easy and to be honest, I don’t remember the last time I slept on a lead,” said Casey, a regular on the Europro Tour.
With Casey’s place secured at the $7,000,000 Rolex Series event from July 4-7, the contest for the remaining three places would go down to the wire, with Naas pro O’Rourke making the biggest move on Sunday. The Kildare man found a magnificent seven birdies in a four-under par 68 – the low round of the day – that saw him burst into second spot at six-under par.
“It was a couple of strong days golf especially today when the winds were very testing out there,” said O’Rourke.
The 26-year old was joined by The Island’s Paul McBride who added a solid even par 72 to his superb day one 66 and with three of the four tickets taken, the last place came down to a three-man playoff with Old Conna’s Neil O’Briain, Castle amateur Robert Moran and Evolve Coaching’s McGeady tussling it out after all three finished the 36-hole tournament on five-under.
All three players parred the first playoff hole before Derry golfer McGeady struck the decisive blow; his birdie at the second extra hurdle enough to bury the hopes of O’Briain and Moran and take spot number four for Lahinch.
“That putt on 18 was ridiculous really. It’s not the ideal putt you would want to leave yourself to get into a play-off but to hole it and then go through on a playoff, I’m over the moon,” said McGeady who will be making just his second appearance in the event.
Well done to all four golfers who advance and to Moyvalley for hosting an extremely competitive but fair test given the magnitude of the prize on offer. Roll on Lahinch!