Gavin Moynihan from Ireland bolstered his growing reputation with a come-from-behind victory at the 2014 Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship at Panmure Golf Course in Carnoustie Country, shrugging off a nine on his final day scorecard to record a famous triumph.
Six strokes behind Australian Geoff Drakeford – the event leader for the opening three rounds –Moynihan’s chances looked slim going into the final 18 holes.
But on the fast-running, tight links, with the wind picking up, Walker Cup man Moynihan flourished as Drakeford stuttered. Having carded a potentially damaging quintuple bogey at the par-4 12th in the third round, when he lost a ball and then found a hazard, Moynihan dug deep to secure a superb triumph.
The 19-year-old Dubliner, from The Island Club, responded with three birdies after his nightmare hole to card a 68. He then went one better in the final round, helped by an eagle 3 at the 14th, to set Drakeford a five-under-par target.
The Aussie, seeking his biggest title success, was well in control going into the final nine holes, only to make a double bogey at the 12th. Back-to-back bogeys at the finish, after a penalty drop on the 17th when he found the gorse, ultimately cost him.
Drakeford, 22, finished on three-under-par after his closing 75, the same mark as fast-finishing Englishman Nick Marsh and another Irishman, Jack Hume.
Moynihan, a member of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team in 2013 and winner of the Irish Open Stroke Play in 2012, said: “After making the nine, I was just trying to finish in the top 15, to be honest. I thought my tournament was over. But I played really well from there and this win is very nice.”
Moynihan, who has just completed his first year at the University of Alabama, is the first Irish winner of the Scottish Open Stroke Play since Philip Walton in 1981, joining a roll of honour that also includes Colin Montgomerie, Andrew Coltart and Stephen Gallacher.
A sense of history was certainly in the air as the final round was played out over the par-70 layout. Three-time stroke play champion and local man Ian Hutcheon, the Monifieth great, watched on, with the players also following in the footsteps of legendary Ben Hogan, who practiced at Panmure before his 1953 Open success at Carnoustie.
It’s Moynihan’s name who will now go down in the club’s history books, as Drakeford lost out. “I hit a couple of stray shots and paid the price,” he admitted. “It’s one of those courses where you can’t miss on. It gets a bit brutal if you do.”
Eight Scots finished in the top 20, without threatening a title charge, meaning Wallace Booth remains the last home player to win the title in 2008.
Southerness’ Scott Gibson finished in a share of seventh place on one over par, with 16-year-old Boy’s international Murray Naysmith a shot further back inside the top 10.
“It’s my first men’s stroke play event so I’ve exceeded my expectations,” said the Marriott Dalmahoy player. “If I could play all four rounds I was going to be happy, it was about experience for me, so I’m pleased.”
Kilmarnock Barassie’s Jack McDonald and reigning Scottish Amateur champion Alexander Culverwell (Dunbar) shared 12th spot.
Culverwell, who was tied 34th after the second round but closed with rounds of 66 and 73 to catapult up the leaderboard, said: “It was a ‘keep in play’ type of course, similar to when I won the Scottish Amateur at Blairgowrie last year, and I gave myself loads of chances. It was about plotting your way round, not overpowering, as that course can bite you.”
After Panmure, the majority of the field now head for this week’s St Andrews Links Trophy, an event that continues to attract the world’s top amateurs.