Niall Kearney and Jonathan Caldwell advance in Euro Tour school

Niall Kearney and Jonathan Caldwell are safely through to next month’s second stage of the European Tour qualifying school.

Niall Kearney and Jonathan Caldwell advance in Euro Tour school

Both were among the 25 who qualified from the first stage event at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire yesterday as they bid to make it through all three gruelling stages and earn their Tour cards for 2017.

The pair finished in joint fifth position overall on seven-under par and two strokes back on joint-leaders Philip Eriksson of Sweden and Scotsman Daniel Kay who were tied on nine-under (279).

Kearney and Caldwell join compatriots Brain Casey, Cormac Sharvin, Stephen Grant, Tim Rice and Declan Loftus, who were among 204 players who successfully negotiated the first stage.

The four, second stage events will be held simultaneously at four Spanish courses — Las Colinas, El Saler, Panoramica and Lumine — between November 4-7.

Elsewhere, former world number one Tiger Woods has officially entered next week’s Safeway Open as he edges nearer to competing in his first PGA Tour event since August 2015.

Woods, who has been sidelined by serious back problems, said last month he planned to play four events before the end of the year, starting with the Tiger Woods Invitational on the Monterey Peninsula, California, on Monday.

Woods has undergone three back operations in the space of 19 months and has not won on the PGA Tour since the Bridgestone Invitational in 2013.

The 14-time major winner served as a vice-captain to Davis Love as the US won the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine last week and will perform the same role for Steve Stricker at the 2017 Presidents Cup, if he fails to make the team.

Meanwhile, England’s Ross Fisher has already set his sights on helping Europe regain the Ryder Cup after being a frustrated spectator for last week’s defeat at Hazeltine.

Fisher, who carded a second round of 68 to claim a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship yesterday, was part of the winning team at Celtic Manor in 2010, but failed to qualify for any of the last three biennial contests.

“The juices were definitely flowing,” Fisher said.

I watched quite a bit Friday, a fair amount Saturday and then watched it until unfortunately the Americans won the cup on Sunday. That was a bit upsetting and I was a bit cheesed off so I went to bed!

“It was probably a good thing that they won it. For us to win four in a row it would have been a bit of sour grapes and they would have said we don’t really think that much about the Ryder Cup and value the Presidents Cup more.

Fisher, who lost a play-off to Alexander Levy in the Porsche European Open a fortnight ago, carded seven birdies and three bogeys on the Old Course at St Andrews, one of the three venues used for the pro-am event.

At 11 under par he enjoyed a one-shot lead over Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren, whose 68 came at Kingsbarns, where first-round leader Alex Noren shot a 71 to finish nine under.

Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters is five shots off the pace after a 68 at Kingsbarns, but was left to regret a double bogey on the 17th after six birdies in the previous 16 holes.

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