An Eagle three holes from home by Niall Kearney of Royal Dublin signalled his intent on the fourth day of Final Qualifying School and easily secured him a place in the final rounds starting on Wednesday.
However a couple of bogeys on two of the last three holes prevented what looked like a stunning top ten finish. In the end he had to settle for tied 24th overall.
Kearney will tee off in the final two rounds on Wednesday morning as the leading Irish contender despite this being his first time at Final Qualifying School.
This has been a good year for Kearney having earlier won the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship – better known as the Brabazon Trophy - an event open to male amateur golfers of all Nationalities. He was also a member of the GB and Ireland 2009 Walker Cup team which lost to the United States last September at the Merion Club in Pennsylvania.
Kilkenny’s Gary Murphy, the leading Irish man overnight, slipped over 50 places during the day and almost beyond safety when five bogeys left him scrapping to regain his Tour card. Three vital birdies and an aggregate of 280 then ensured he would remain at the PGA Catalunya for the final two rounds on 49th place on the leader board.
Simon Thornton managed to recover from an even par first nine holes after two bogeys to then card three birdies on the 10th, 16th and 17th holes for a 69 and a total of 3 under par. His aggregate score of 280 placed him tied 49th alongside Murphy to also ensure he had a further role to play over the coming days.
But a double bogey on the par four 10th hole on the Tour Course left Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell with a lot of work to do on the run into the clubhouse. Then a triple bogey on the 18th finally concluded his challenge as his two over par 72 left him level par for the four days in joint 95th place.
Glasson’s Colm Moriarty fell short of the cut on the last day after a four over par pushed him into a tie for 114th place. Four bogeys in his final round left him with a 2 over par total bringing his 2010 Tour School efforts to a close,
John Kelly ended his second appearance at Qualifying School with a superb three under par 67 but it was not enough to improve an aggregate total of 290 and a total of 6 over par. Kelly finished in 134th place.
The overnight leader Simon Khan surged ahead to complete his fourth round in 20 under par and aggregate of 264 at PGA Golf de Catalunya with Alejandro Cañizares of Spain in second place three shots behind. Third place went to Charlie Ford of England who slipped two places after a two under par 70 left him 16 under.
Earlier today there had been a one hour fifteen minute delay in Girona after early morning frost delayed the start of the fourth Round.
Since 1976, The European Tour Qualifying School has been held at the end of each season to establish which players, not otherwise exempt, will gain their playing privileges on the Tour for the following season through a qualifying competition.
The Qualifying School is held in three stages at a series of venues in the UK and Continental Europe. In 2009, the initial 72 hole event - known as the First Qualifying Stage – was split in two sections (Section A and Section B) and played from 15-18 September.
The Second Qualifying Stage was played over 72 holes on November 20 - 23 with the Final Stage currently taking place over 108 holes (six rounds) at PGA Golf de Cataluyna.
The leading 30 players after the next two rounds (plus those tied for 30th place) will earn Category 11b Membership of The European Tour for 2010, which expires at the end of that season.