Gavin Moynihan will look to go one step further at the Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9 after losing out at the final hurdle in last year’s inaugural event, and he arrives full of confidence after demonstrating his match play credentials with victory at GolfSixes earlier this month.
The Irishman was beaten 2 and 1 by Englishman Aaron Rai in the final of the innovative Spanish event last season. Moynihan had levelled the match but Rai powered ahead once again to claim his second of three European Challenge Tour titles which contributed towards his graduation onto the European Tour at the end of the year.
This year, the exciting format continues where players feature in two rounds of stroke play before the top 64 will battle it out in the knockout stage over Saturday and Sunday.
Moynihan will tee it up at Valle Romano Golf with recent match play success under his belt after teaming up with long-time friend Paul Dunne on the European Tour to take the GolfSixes title for Team Ireland. The pair battled through the rounds in the six-hole event at Centurion Club in St Albans to defeat France 2-0 in the final.
However, his attention now switches to the Challenge Tour once again with the chance to claim his first win on Europe’s top development tour and erase the memory of last year’s agonising final defeat.
“It was tough last year against Aaron. I think I was three under through the eight holes and still lost, plus it was windy on that afternoon as well,” he said.
“I wouldn’t take any shots back. He was just on it – I think he had eight or nine putts in eight holes, so you can’t really do any more than that!
“It’s similar to GolfSixes in that you’ve got to come out fast straight away because birdies are going to win the holes. It’s very rare that you’re going to get holes that you’ll win with a par, so you have to come out and go for everything and treat every match as if it’s a play-off.
“Last year took me a bit by surprise because I had no status leading into the event and it kicked my year on, big time.”
The former Walker Cup player is no stranger to match play and knows how important a good start can be if you are to succeed during the week. The 23 year old was part of the victorious 2015 Great Britain and Ireland team that defeated the United States before turning professional a week later.
He also knows the perils of looking too far ahead after not making a cut this year on the Challenge Tour, but that could change this week with the determination to reach the knockout stages at the weekend.
“It’s really important. It’s not going to be as windy over the next few days. I played nine holes on the front nine yesterday and there are a lot of chances out there if you drive it well,” he said.
“I think if you hit it well off the tee this week then you’ll be well on your way for a good score.
“Like I did last year I’ll try to qualify for the match play and then anyone can beat anyone, so I’ll just try to qualify for that and then you can get a run going.”
Moynihan is joined in the field by 2008 Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson and Kalle Samooja, who is the highest ranked player competing in Spain this week as he sits eighth on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah Rankings
There will be 24 Spaniards competing on home soil, including Adri Arnaus who led for two rounds last week in the 56˚ Open de Portugal @ Morgado Golf Resort.