The final full-field event of the season is in the books and as the European Challenge Tour heads to China, we take stock from a week on the Emerald Isle.
83rd time is a charm
With his birdie on the third extra hole, Emilio Cuartero Blanco secured his first-career victory in his 83rd start on the Challenge Tour. The Spaniard was overcome with emotion and admitted he thought his fifth season on the tour was coming to an end.
“This was going to be the last tournament of the year for me,” he said. “I was 100th on the Rankings, and it was one of those years where you battle and the scores don’t go the right way.”
The win moves him to 41st on the Road to Mallorca Rankings and keeps his season going in China. The 28-year-old will re-join his peers at the penultimate tournament on the Road to Mallorca, the Foshan Open. There, he will try to remain inside the top 45 and qualify for the Challenge Tour Grand Final.
Oscar Lengden narrowly converted his birdie attempt to keep the play-off going at the Stone Irish Challenge, but with the agonising lip-out, he impressively recorded his second runner-up finish in the event in as many starts. In 2017, he finished behind Julien Guerrier when the tournament was held at Mount Wolseley, and after not playing the event last year, he has now finished in second again. The Swede has ended the year 23rd on the Rankings in each of the last two seasons, and after his play-off appearance he now occupies the 31st position with three massive weeks left on the Road to Mallorca.
Irish golf’s man to watch
Dublin resident Cormac Sharvin won the Christy O’Connor Jnr Memorial Trophy with his tied-fifth place finish on eight under par. The prize, which is awarded to the leading Irish player at the Stone Irish Challenge comes as Sharvin moves up to fifth on the Road to Mallorca Rankings. The 27-year-old was also the low-Irishman at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and in completing the impressive double he has firmly established himself as the hottest prospect in Irish golf.
Cockerill cracks on
The rise up the Road to Mallorca Rankings continued for Aaron Cockerill at the Stone Irish Challenge. With his tied fifth place finish, the Canadian has now moved from 97th to 48th on the season-long points race over his last four starts. The 27-year-old recorded his third-consecutive top ten finish and has played his way into the Hainan Open. It is all to play for with three tournaments remaining in his rookie season.
For the first time since the 2017 Open de Bretagne, the final round of a Challenge Tour event was cancelled due to unplayable conditions. Heavy overnight rains soaked Headfort Golf Club and as they continued into the morning, tee times were pushed back. Players eventually began play, but when the rains returned, the course became unplayable, and with not enough daylight left to finish, the fourth round was cancelled, sending 54-hole leaders Emilio Cuartero Blanco and Oscar Lengden to a play-off, which was contested on the par three 17th hole—the only playable hole on the course.
Tournament Director Andrew Snoddy said: “We had eight to ten millimetres of rain this morning, which forced us to push back tee times. We did our best and got the course playable and the players teed off, but then another three to four millimetres of rain fell on top of what was well over 100 millimetres of rain in the past week. It’s unfortunate because the course was presented so well.”