Ireland’s quintet of hopefuls have work to do to make the 72-hole cut today after mixed weekends at the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School in Spain.
Only Michael Hoey, who followed a second-round 79 with a one-over 72 yesterday to slip to 147th on eight-over, looks out of the running in the race to finish inside the top 25 and ties after six rounds and clinch a European Tour card.
The top 70 and ties after today’s fourth round will make the cut and qualify for the last two days on the Lakes Course at Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona, but only Clandeboye’s Jonny Caldwell and Tramore’s Robin Dawson are inside that mark at halfway.
Caldwell, who already has a Challenge Tour category through this year’s Europro Tour Order of Merit, is just a shot inside the top 70, tied for 46th on three-under after a level-par 72 on the Hills yesterday — but also three shots outside that magical top 25.
“I’m pleased with my position,” said Caldwell, who has made 12 birdies over the first three rounds but also run on seven bogeys and a double-bogey.
Portmarnock Links touring professional Dawson has tackled the par-fives well all week, picking up birdies at seven of the 11 he’s played so far.
But he’s made just one other birdie and after carding a level-par 72 on the Hills Course yesterday to share 62nd on two-under. A score in the 60s over the Lakes Course today would be worth its weight in gold.
Moynihan was tied 22nd overnight following a three-under 69 in round two. But the man from The Island shot a three-over 75 on the Hills Course yesterday to fall back to tied 82nd alongside Kearney on one-over-par.
Kearney chiselled out a one-under 70 at the Lakes where winds gusting over 35 mph made life tough for the earlier starters.
“Conditions have been pretty tough, but I’m satisfied so far and there’s still time to throw a low one in,” said Kearney. “The wind dropped as the day went on, but it is seriously cold in the mornings.”
Hoey’s second-round 79 was a major blow to his hopes and after carding a one-over 72 on the Lakes Course yesterday, he’ll likely need a score in the low 60s at the Hills today to survive the cut.
At the top of the leaderboard, overnight leader Benjamin Poke signed for a three-under-par 69 on the Hills Course to extended his lead to two shots at halfway.
The 27-year-old Dane birdied three of his last five holes head the field on 12-under from the Netherlands’ Lars van Meijel, who made six birdies and an eagle-two on the Hills to finish with a seven-under-par 65.
“I haven’t really looked at the scoreboards this week or checked online after the round to see how I’m doing, and I’ve been watching snooker over the last few days in the evening to take my mind off things,” Poke said.
“I’m trying not to think about the top 25 at the moment as I can’t control what other players are doing, I can only try and control how I play and we’ll see where it all ends up at the end of the week.”
India’s S.S.P Chawrasia and joint overnight leader Toby Tree of England share third place on nine-under.
Will Enefer of England and Australian David Micheluzzi, who were paired together on the Lakes Course and fired best-of-the-week, eight-under-par 63s to move into a share of 62nd place on two-under-par, which also stands as the current projected cut line.
Any player surviving the 72-hole cut will be guaranteed a European Challenge Tour card as they battle it out on the Lakes Course over the final two days for a spot in the top 25.
Caldwell, Dawson, and Moynihan will all tee it up on the Lakes Course today with Kearney and Hoey, heading for the Hills.