Simon Thornton slips on another tough day at Q School for Irish group

Having led the Irish challenge at the Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort outside Girona, Simon Thornton is in a real battle to make the cut heading into today’s fourth round.

Simon Thornton slips on another tough day at Q School for Irish group

The Royal County Down player started on four under yesterday but shot five bogeys to drop to one under in a tie for 71st.

Only the top 70 and ties advance to the final two rounds tomorrow and Thursday from which the top 25 and ties will secure playing rights for next year’s European Tour.

One man who won’t be around for the rest of the week to challenge for full exemptions in 2016 is Peter Lawrie after being disqualified for not returning his scorecard.

The Dubliner was well down the field starting yesterday after rounds of 76 and 69 but he endured a disastrous day on the extremely demanding Stadium course when he slumped to an 86.

Whether it was pure frustration or he simply forgot, he didn’t hang around afterwards.

But the official word from the European Tour management was he was disqualified for not returning the card which would have shown a triple bogey, two doubles and seven bogeys.

Only Ruaidhri McGee shot worse than Lawrie this week when hitting an 87 on Sunday but the 24 year-old Derry man still managed a smile after his damage limitation exercise yesterday.

The Rosapenna pro carded a one over round of 73 and though he’s going to miss today’s cut unless something remarkable happens, he was philosophical after the year he’s had.

“Yesterday was okay after Sunday,” he offered.

“I did okay to scrape it around that Stadium course and hopefully I won’t ever have to come back to it, unless it’s for the Spanish Open or the Ryder Cup!” he added in reference to the resort’s bid to host the 2022 event.

McGee was right in contention on five under after day one but his round of 15 over 24 hours later brought him right back to earth.

“It was tough to come out and play after what happened Sunday.

“I didn’t really know what to think but I just chatted to a few people and went out for dinner and realised it’s not the end of the world.

“It’s been a good year for me, really, it’s always hard to look at the bigger picture when you’re playing so it’s not been too bad when you take a step back.” Of the Irish who are in contention to be staying around a little longer this week, old stager Damien McGrane is right in the mix on seven under, seven shots off the lead of Austrian Lukas Nemecz.

McGrane played his best golf of the week in a decent round that featured three birdies either side of the turn, the only blots on his card being bogeys on four and eleven, respectively.

However, he’ll need no reminding of the challenges of the Stadium course this morning where he tees off from the 10th at 10:10am local time.

Next best of the home challenge is Waterford’s Kevin Phelan on four under, 10 shots off the lead in a tie for 48th.

Like McGrane, it was the Mount Juliet man’s best round of the week, and his 66 came courtesy of a superb back nine that featured five birdies.

“It was better than yesterday,” said a typically low-key Phelan.

“I putted well and took my chances. I was a bit up and down on the front nine but I played really well on the back nine so I’m happy enough.

“I gave myself plenty chances with some good ball-striking so it was great to take advantage of that.”

A shot further back is Open hero Paul Dunne, though the Greystones man has work to do if he is to challenge for full playing rights next year.

His disposition immediately afterwards was one of frustration after a level par round on the Tour course.

A missed opportunity to ease the pressure ahead of today was immediate reaction.

“I’m a bit disappointed, nothing was really on form yesterday,” he offered.

“I drove it badly, hit a lot of bad iron shots and didn’t putt well so you tend not to shoot under par when you play like that but three more days, hopefully I can hit it a bit better.

“Yesterday, I didn’t give myself many chances, maybe a few outside chances but every time I hit a green it was 30-feet for a two-put.

There’s so long to go it’s hard to really think about not making it through; there can be big swings in the scoreboard here so I just have to keep shooting under par and I’ll be okay.”

Irish scorers:

D McGrane 71, 68, 66 (-7); K Phelan 70, 72, 66 (-4); P Dunne 71, 68, 70 (-3); S Thornton 71, 67, 73 (-1); B Casey 76, 69, 75 (+6) ; R McGee 64, 87, 73 (+10); P Lawrie 76, 69, 86 (Disq.)

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