Just two Irish players are bang on course to make this week’s European Tour Qualifying School Finals with just one round to go at the second stage in Spain.
More than 300 players, across four venues in southern Spain are bidding for a place at the six-round final stage at PGA Catalunya near Girona from December 10-15.
But with only today’s fourth and final round remaining, only Dubliner Neil O’Briain and Galwayman Mark Staunton are inside the top 20 who are sure to progress from each venue.
Limerick’s Cian McNamara, Waterville’s David Higgins, former Shamrock Rovers footballer Stephen Grant and Clandeboye’s Jonny Caldwell still within striking distance with a good final round.
But even if they make it through, they know that they must then finish inside the top 30 and ties after six gruellings rounds at the final stage to secure modest playing rights on the 2012 European Tour.
O’Briain is the best of the bunch, tied for ninth at La Manga on seven under par following a two under 71 in Sunday’s third round. The top 20 there are on six under or better, leaving Mick McGeady with a lot of work to do after a 74 relegated him to tied 32nd on two under.
As for Glasson’s Colm Moriarty, he’s seven shots off that pace on one over following a disappointing 74 at the Murcia venue.
Ballinalsoe native Staunton stormed home in 31 at El Valle in Murcia to share 19th spot on two under par with former Hoops star Grant just a shot further back in joint 24th.
The Birr man looked certain to miss out at four over par at halfway but he produced a brilliant, five under par 66 on Sunday to keep his dream alive at one under par.
Ballymena’s Chris Devlin went the opposite direction with a 75 but is still not out of the running as he share 27th place on one over par.
Things will be a lot tougher for Muskerry’s Niall Turner at the same venue as he posted a third round 74 to slide to 33rd on two over.
There are no Irish players in action at Costa Ballena but Limerick star McNamara is just a shot outside the top 20 at Las Colinas in Alicante.
The 25-year old former South of Ireland champion posted a level par 71 to share 24th place on two under with Higgins two shots outside the mark after a third round 75 saw him crash from fourth to 32nd alongside Cork’s Aaron O’Callaghan (70) on one under.
Niall Kearney gave himself some hope with a 68 that left him just three shots shy of the top 20 on level par with Brendan McCarroll at the back of the field on 17 over.Article by Brian Keogh Monday, December 5, 2011 at 8:21