By Carl Field
Fresh from recording his best result on the Challenge Tour, Conor O’Rourke tees it up in Portugal this morning as his bid to earn a European Tour card begins at qualifying school.
The 27-year-old Kildare man claimed the Christy O’Connor Junior Memorial Trophy as the leading home player in a tie for 23rd at the Monaghan Irish Challenge at Concra Wood over the weekend.
O’Rourke is one of three Irish players who are competing at the first stage qualifying event at Bom Sucesso, Obidos, this week alongside fellow Naas star Jonathan Yates and Castleknock’s David Carey.
The field also includes Javier and Manuel Ballesteros, sons of the late great Seve Ballesteros, as well as Craig Lawrie, son of another Ryder Cup star, Paul.
There is also Irish interest at the corresponding event at Golf d’Hardelot in France where Peter Williamson will be aiming to be one of the qualifiers from a field that also includes former Amateur champion and home favourite Romain Langasque.
The four Irishmen will be aiming to join five of their compatriots who have already played their way into stage two.
Luke Donnelly and Neil O’Briain both came through from The Players Club in Bristol, while Gary Hurley was victorious at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire – where Kevin Phelan also qualified. Cameron Raymond, meanwhile, succeeded at Bogogno in Italy.