Conor O’Rourke just misses out as trio advance on European Tour qualifying school

Three Irish stars made it through to the second stage of the European Tour qualifying school after top-20 finishes at Frilford Heath, Oxfordshire.

Knock’s Colin Fairweather was the leading Irish qualifier at the start of yesterday’s final round and he secured his place in the next phase with a level-par 72 to finish tied for fifth on 284, four-under par.

Niall Kearney (Royal Dublin) joined Fairweather on 284 after repeating the 69 he carded on Thursday. Having opened the tournament with a 75, Kearney improved as the competition went on and boasted an eagle and four birdies, as well as three bogeys, in the fourth and final round.

Fairweather and Kearney finished five shots behind English winner Peter Tarver-Jones (279), as Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy also bagged a spot in the next phase on 285 after a fourth-round score of 71, one-under par.

The trio will join John-Ross Galbraith (Whitehead), David Carey (Castleknock) and Brendan McCarroll, who all qualified from earlier tournaments, in the second stage.

However, Conor O’Rourke will not accompany them as he suffered a surprise exit on 287. The Naas man started well and was tied for ninth heading into the final round where a one-over 73 left him on the wrong side of the line in 21st, with only the top 20 and ties progressing.

Chris Selfridge also failed to make it through, as he finished on 295, seven-over par.

Stuart Grehan, Brian McElhinney and Kevin Le Blanc all failed to make it beyond the third-round cut.

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