But Waterville’s David Higgins and Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee are all but out of the running after enduring tough days on the Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya Resort near Girona.
As Phelan birdied his 16th and 17th holes at the Stadium Course for a two under 70 that left him just one stroke outside the top 25 and ties who will win tour cards today, Higgins bogeyed his last two holes for a disappointing two over 74 that left him eight shots outside the mark with McGee a shot further back after a 75.
“It was nice to get a couple of birdies there at the seventh and eighth after making a couple of bogeys,” said Phelan, who finished the day tied for 33rd place on seven under par.
“I have a good chance going into tomorrow now and while I haven’t got the most out of my rounds so far, hopefully I can capitalise on a few more chances tomorrow and win my card.
“I know I have Challenge Tour status already but the goal is still to go out there and win a full card.”
Phelan started on the back nine and birdied the 13th and 16th before bogeys at the 18th, fourth and fifth against a solitary birdie at the par-five third left him back in the pack.
But two great strikes followed by a deft, bladed chip to five feet at the par-five seventh gave the 23-year-old hope and he then followed up with a six iron to 15 feet at the par-three eighth and converted the putt before narrowly missing from similar range at the ninth.
Higgins, 40, was level par for his round with six holes to play but bogeyed the eighth and ninth — his 17th and 18th — for a two-over par 74 that left him tied for 67th on level par.
As for McGee, the 22-year old had three bogeys and a double bogey in a 75 to slip to joint 70th on one over.
Overnight leader Carlos Del Moral of Spain fired a sensational 65 to lead by four shots Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti on 21 under par.