The Island’s Gavin Moynihan made a major statement in Portstewart last weekend. Picture: Pat Cashman

THE ISLAND golfer Gavin Moynihan is confident he can earn his first European Tour card for 2018 the hard way despite gaining a foothold in the Race to Dubai with a 14th place finish at the Irish Open.
Moynihan shot an outstanding eight under par 64 on the final day at Portstewart Golf Club in Derry to finish best of the Irish and scoop a prize in excess of €25,000.
“That round was big for me,” Moynihan told the Irish Golf Desk after he closed out the final day’s play with seven birdies and an eagle, with just one dropped shot.
“I had not really had like a low round since I turned pro. I had a few 67s and 66s, so to shoot eight under around this course — and it wasn’t easy today — it’s huge.”
The biggest carrot for the 22-year-old, however, is the prospect of securing a seat at the top table via the Challenge Tour, which he has been competing on for the past couple of months.
The Irish Open placement doesn’t help his standing on the Challenge Tour but he has the confidence to finish the year strongly and earn European Tour standing by finishing in the top 15.
Until recently, he’d been competing at a level below again, on the EuroPro tour, where he won his first competition as a pro at Lee Westwood’s Close House in April.
Moynihan missed seven of the first 15 cuts of his professional career as he struggled to hit the ground running and was reliant on invitations to compete onto Challenge Tour events.
He had not been able to qualifiy for the Irish Open directly and only found out he had been invited a week in advance – his first appearance in the tournament since turning professional.
Moynihan says he never doubted himself during those dark early days on the pro tour, taking inspiration from the performances of his one-time Walker Cup teammate Paul Dunne.
Wicklowman Dunne made a splash at the British Open in 2015 as he became the first amateur to lead going into the final day before falling out of contention.
He hasn’t had it all his own way since turning professional after that performance but has managed to retain a European Tour card since, convincing Moynihan he can do the same.
“I didn’t [doubt myself]. Last year, even though things weren’t going great, I could see how Dunner was doing. I have been playing with Dunner since I was 16.
“I’d see how he was playing and I’d match him. I knew if he could do it, I could do it. It was just a matter of catching a break somewhere.”