Thursday, 02 February 2017
  (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Ireland’s Brendan McGovern dedicated his Senior Tour Qualifying School Final Stage victory to his uncle after finishing top of the class with a score of 11 under par.

The 51 year old successfully made his way through Q-School for the second consecutive year, going wire-to-wire with rounds of 66-66-73-68 to finish six strokes ahead of the chasing pack.

“It was a different Brendan McGovern out there today,” he said. “Last year, after finishing Q-School, nobody had told me that my uncle had passed away during the tournament.

“He was buried a year ago today and I have to dedicate this to him. He was my 15th club. He was the one who got me into golf, and that kept me going today.

“I was very solid all week and even after my third round I was very comfortable. Today, I missed one green and hit one bogey.

“I was happy after yesterday and knew it was just a matter of a few holes going my way today.”

McGovern finished six strokes clear of Clark Dennis, Gary Rusnak and Peter Wilson who shared second place on five under par, securing their places on the 2017 European Senior Tour.

A play-off determined the final card as Frenchman Jean Pierre Sallat beat Jeff Hall and David Shacklady with a birdie on the first extra hole.

Speaking after the play-off, Sallat said: “It was terrible out there, it was very difficult. The format was tough but I hit a good putt in the play-off.

“It’s fantastic and my card is now in my pocket.”

Rusnak successfully navigated Qualifying School for a second time after previously securing his card for the Senior Tour in 2014.

“That was tough, I don’t want to have to do this again,” the American said. “I finished well, like I did three years ago. I made a big birdie on 17 and it gave me a little leeway for 18, but I was still nervous.

“I never thought I had it. I was three under and not inside the five on the 15th. Then I hit a good shot on the par three and birdied 17.

“I really enjoyed my first two years in 2014 and 2015. Last year was rough because I didn’t get to play much. But now I’ll get to go to some new places and it’ll be a fun year.”

Wilson, Dennis, McGovern, Rusnak and Sallat with Rui Gago, Golf Director at Pestana Golf & Resort (left), and David MacLaren, Head of the European Senior Tour (right)

Dennis and Wilson will make their Senior Tour debuts when the season begins at the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq in March.

Wilson will have more reason to celebrate as he turns 50 less than two weeks before his first tournament.

“I’m ecstatic,” the Englishman said. “It’s been a brilliant week, I’m over the moon. It’s not easy in those conditions and then the pressure was really on in the last round.

“I knew after yesterday that I could make a charge if a couple of putts went in.

“I’ve entered Sharjah already and I’m looking forward to putting my game up against the best on the Senior Tour.”

Dennis carded the lowest round of the tournament, a seven under par 64, during Thursday’s third round, giving him an opportunity to secure his card for the 2017 season.

“Yesterday was one of the best rounds I’ve played in quite a few years,” he said. “Brendan played some fantastic golf. It’s great for him to have won, but the goal for all of us was top five.

“I’m going into uncharted territory now on the Senior Tour. They are really making an effort to improve this Tour and add a few more tournaments to the schedule, so this year should be enjoyable.”

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