Heartbreak as school’s out for Gary Hurley and Michael Hoey

It was a case of close but no cigar for the Irish pair on the final stage of Q-School at PGA Catalunya yesterday as both Michael Hoey and Gary Hurley missed out on full playing rights for the European Tour by two and three shots, respectively.
Heartbreak as school’s out for Gary Hurley and Michael Hoey

Hurley has showed immense bottle all week for a 23-year-old playing the event for the first time, and if his five-under round of 65 to make the cut on Tuesday was impressive, the manner in which he played yesterday was no less so.

Knowing he needed a similar round on the tougher Stadium Course to make the top 25 and ties who would secure their entry for the 2017 Race to Dubai, he fired five birdies in his opening six holes to bring himself to within one shot of the Holy Grail.

There was still plenty golf to play, of course, and on his next, he was cruelly denied another birdie when he lipped out on 16 (his seventh after starting on 10).

Still, two more birdies followed and he stared down the final nine holes knowing he was in touching distance of dreamland.

But his luck ran out when his playing partners Simon Khan and Robert Dinwiddie were forced into slow play by wayward shots and that drew the attention of the referee, who has already been on Hurley’s case this week.

Being forced to hurry did Hurley no favours and despite a birdie on three (his 12th), it was sandwiched by bogeys either side and it was another dropped shot on six where his dreams all but ended.

Shy of the green by inches but submerged in rough, he went to check if a pine needle near his ball was embedded or loose. It proved the end of his Tour hopes.

“I was just short of the green in the semi-rough and the ball was sitting fine but beside it there was a pine needle,” he recalled, ruefully.

“The needle forked, one half was broken, and the other half was sitting on the grass. I thought it might have been stuck in the ground or loose so I went to touch it to see if it was loose and it was stuck so I left it, the ball didn’t move.

“But I stood up and when I went to glance away, I saw the ball move in my peripheral vision and it was after moving an inch.

“I called a penalty on myself because I must have caused it to move.

“It was just one of those unlucky things that melted my head for a hole and a half.”

A one stroke penalty meant a double bogey and dropping back to one under par proved too big a bridge to gap.

“I knew it was gone when I made double… that was the dream gone.”

Similarly, it wasn’t to be for Michael Hoey who despite being one shot outside the cut-off with six to play, he carded back-to-back sixes for a level par round and final score of three-under.

Meanwhile, Nathan Kimsey produced the round of his life to win the tournament with a two under par round of 70 proving enough for a 13 under par total.

The 23-year-old who was part of Great Britain and Ireland’s Walker Cup team in 2013, was one of 30 players to secure European Tour cards at PGA Catalunya Resort after finishing on 13 under par after six rounds.

Four-time European Tour winner Ricardo Gonzalez became the oldest ever Q-School graduate at the age of 47 after finishing in a tie for second on 12 under, alongside former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari and Scotland’s Scott Henry.

England’s Eddie Pepperell and former major winner YE Yang posted closing rounds of 71 to earn their playing privileges for next season.

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