Tramore’s Robin Dawson showed his ability to remain patient in his bid for a precious tour card by opening with a two-under 70 at the Final Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School in Spain.
Now the touring professional for Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links in Dublin, the 24-year-old Waterford rookie made three birdies and dropped just one stroke on the Hills Course at Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona to end the day just one stroke outside the top 25 and ties who will win European Tour playing rights after six rounds.
He opened with a bogey four at the 10th but reeled off nine pars in a row before making three birdies in his next six holes, picking up shots at the par-five second and seventh holes and the par-three third.
At two-under-par, he’s just four strokes behind American John Catlin, who shot a bogey-free, six-under 66 on the Lakes Course to lead by one stroke from Jean Baptiste Gonnet of France, Alejandro Cañizares of Spain, Denmark’s Benjamin Poke, Finland’s Sami Valimaki, England’s Toby Tree and Italian Lorenzo Scalise.
Catlin secured his fourth Asian Tour victory in Thailand last week and while he didn’t keep his European Tour card despite making 13 cuts from 21 starts this year, he’s keen to get back “It’s only one of six rounds, and it’s definitely a nice way to start, but there’s still a long way to go.”
It was a solid if unspectacular day for the five Irishmen in action as Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell and Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney shot one-under 71s on The Hills and Portrane’s Gavin Moynihan a one-under 70 on The Lakes to share 50th place, just two shots outside the top 25.
Kearney was two-over-par after bogeys at the eighth and ninth before he birdied the 11th, 12th and 13th and followed a bogey at the 17th with a birdie three at the last at the Hills.
“I found the Hills Course tough,” Kearney said. “There were lots of three and four iron approach shots, so I am very pleased with the comeback after the bogeys to finish the front nine.”
Caldwell turned in level par and picked up a shot at the par-five 16th en route to his 71. Caldwell said:
“I played nicely in some tough conditions on the front nine and then played some very steady golf from tee to green coming home.”
Moynihan also felt the cold, but after following birdies at the second, 10th and 11th at the Lakes with a double-bogey six at the 12th, he sandwiched bogeys at the 15th and 17th between birdies at the 13th and 18th.
“There was some wind, but it was still very cold,” Moynihan said. “I plugged up the lip of bunkers on both the 15th and 17th, which was unfortunate, but I made up for those with an unreal up and down on 18 from way right of the green for birdie which always makes dinner taste that bit better.”
As for five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey, the Ballymoney man birdied the third and 11th to be two-under at the Lakes with four holes to play. But while he bogeyed the 15th and the par-five 18th for his level par 71 that left him tied for 80th, he was not unduly worried and expected scoring to improve radically over the weekend as the 156-strong field jostles to make the top 70 and ties after 72 holes before playing two more rounds on the Lakes Course.
“It wasn’t playing difficult, but it was cold early on,” Hoey said. “I played quite solid, and the greens are soft so it’s good for scoring and that should get a lot better over the next few days.”