By Brian Keogh
Tramore’s Robin Dawson promised to “give it socks” at the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School as he joined former Walker Cup team-mates Gavin Moynihan and Cormac Sharvin in surviving the second stage in Spain.
The 21-year-old fired a one-under 71 to finish tied for sixth on 13-under with Sharvin, who shot 70, at El Encin Golf Hotel in Madrid, where Old Conna’s Neil O’Briain (73) missed out by five strokes on four-under as 24 qualified for the gruelling final stage there.
“I’m very pleased,” Dawson said after rounds of 70, 66, 68, and 71 left him just four shots behind winner Josh Geary from Australia. “It was nice to take advantage of getting straight to second stage. My game is in nice shape and I’m very much looking forward to giving it socks next week.”
The 108-hole final stage begins at Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona on Saturday with the 95 second stage qualifiers joining 61 exempt players.
The 156-strong field will play four rounds over the Lakes course and Hills course, with only the top 70 and ties after 72 holes qualifying for the last two rounds.
All those who make the four-round cut will earn Challenge Tour status while only the top 25 and ties after six rounds will be awarded a category on the European Tour.
Moynihan, the only Irish player to win his card at Lumine last year, was fourth on 15-under par after a closing 66 at Desert Springs in Alicante where 24 players qualified.
However, they did not include Rory McIlroy’s former Walker Cup foursomes partner, Jonny Caldwell from Clandeboye, who shot a 69 to agonisingly lose out in an eight-man play-off for the last six spots on eight under.
While there was joy for Dawson, there was no luck for the other two Waterford men in action with Waterford Castle’s Kevin Phelan (72) finishing five shots outside the Desert Springs play-off on three-under with West Waterford’s Gary Hurley (75) three shots further back.
Derry’s Ruaidhri McGee (66) was six shots outside the qualifying mark on one-under at Las Colinas Golf and Country Club in Alicante with Cameron Raymond (72) two shots further back.
Naas’s Conor O’Rourke (72) came up 10 shots shy on four-over at Alenda Golf as six played off for the final four spots at a venue where 24 qualified after a six-player play-off to decide the final four places on six-under.