Jamie McLeary drove away from the Italian Open with a £50,000 car but was gutted to see the wheels come off his title bid in Monza.
The Bonnyrigg-based golfer win Mercedes Nuova Classic C Cabrio coupe for a hole-in-one at the 10th – his opening hole – in the second round at Golf Club Milano at the weekend.
The ace, his first on the European Tour, helped McLeary secure a place in one of the final groups at the halfway stage only to see his hopes of a badly-needed high finish disappear over the last 36 holes.
He eventually finished joint-45th behind home winner Francesco Molinari, leaving the Dalmahoy-attached player running out of time in his bid to try and hang on to a European Tour card.
He’s languishing in 171st in this season’s Race to Dubai, needing to join three of his compatriots – Russell Knox, David Drysdale and Scott Jamieson – in the top 110 by the end of next month to retain his seat at the top table in European golf next season.
“I played some really, really good golf for the first 46 holes, when I was in complete control of my golf ball,” McLeary told the Evening News. “Then, on Sunday, I just got into a bad groove and couldn’t get out of it. I’ve no idea why, to be honest.
“The hole-in-one prize was cool – but I’d give it up in a second to have finished inside the top five. I felt after my first 46 holes that I’d be right in the mix but, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.”
McLeary, who graduated off the Challenge Tour last season, is the second Lothians-based player to win a flash car for making a hole-in-one on the main circuit this year. Richie Ramsay, who lives in Edinburgh, drove off with a £130,000 Mercedes V-12 M760 after he made an ace in BMW International Open in Germany in June.
“I had 201 yards to the pin and I wasn’t sure if my 5-iron would get there given it was a bit cool and I thought about using a 4-iron but went with the 5-iron,” recalled McLeary.
“The ball started right before drawing towards the flag and it pitched about seven feet short before everybody started cheering.
“I didn’t want to think it was in the hole till I got up there to see that it had gone into the hole. It was about 10 past eight by this time and I was just pleased that there were a few people around the green.”
He didn’t realise at first that he’d won the car, adding: “You never know what day the prize of a car or whatever is on offer but a referee came up to me to confirm the car was on offer for all four days.
“I was really nervous on the next tee because I thought to myself you can’t follow a hole-in-one shot with a poor tee shot at the next.”
As he heads to Germany for this week’s Porsche European Open to continue his battle for survival, at least McLeary knows his seven-year-old daughter, Millie, will be pleased about the hole-in-one success.
“She has been asking for a red coloured car with no roof,” revealed the former European amateur No 1. “Well, I’ve now got a silver car with red leather upholstery and no roof, so I am sure she will still be happy.
“I have been driving a Mercedes but only just returned it to the dealers, so I was looking for another one and this will do nicely.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Gallacher will be joining McLeary at Bad Griesbach this week after illness forced the Ryder Cup player to withdraw after the opening round in Italy.
He returned home straight away for tests after feeling “horrific” but is back on his feet and ready to get back to business in Germany.
Gallacher is lying 149th in the Race to Dubai after missing a big chunk of the season due to a wrist injury.