Michael McGeady continued his native Ireland’s extraordinary run of golfing success this season with his maiden Challenge Tour victory at the SWALEC Wales Challenge.
On the back of Padraig Harrington’s recent Open Championship triumph – which took the number of Irish wins on The European Tour to six – McGeady swept to victory following a dramatic play-off with overnight leader Joel Sjoholm of Sweden.
McGeady’s round of 68 at a sun kissed Vale Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort in Cardiff, Wales, saw him finish on four under par, which had looked like being good enough until Sjoholm birdied the 17th hole.
That ensured a play-off, which McGeady promptly won at the second extra hole after Sjoholm’s par putt had drifted agonisingly past the cup.
The winner’s cheque for €22,4000 saw the Irishman leap 125 places up the Challenge Tour Rankings to 34th place, and put him in striking distance of a place on next season’s European Tour.
McGeady said: “This win’s massive for me – I’m absolutely delighted. Those four birdies in five holes on the back nine really got my round going, and from there on in I just tried to play steady golf because I knew four under would have a chance – and so it proved.
“It’s a big relief for me, because my category didn’t guarantee me entry into every event. But now I’m fully exempt for the rest of the year, which means I can pick and choose the tournaments I play in. So it’s really set up my season.
“I’m going to relax at home for a couple of days, before getting ready for the Challenge of Ireland next week. My Mum and Dad and fiancée will be there, so I’ll have some home support – and a bit of pressure! But I’m really looking forward to playing there, and I’m so excited about the rest of the season now.”
Sjoholm’s runner-up spot earned him €22,400 and ensured the Swede a place at the Challenge of Ireland presented by Glasson next week, when he will be joined by home hope Gareth Maybin, who finished one shot further back in a tie for third with Sweden’s Björn Pettersson.
A round of 67 – which equalled the course record – saw England’s James Morrison claim a share of fifth place on two under par, alongside compatriot Ian Garbutt and Scotland’s Greig Hutcheon.