Gavin Moynihan and Ruaidhri McGee will need to put on their putting boots if they are to secure European Tour cards in the final round of the grueling European Tour Qualifying School marathon in Spain.
While both shot one-under-par 70s on a perfect day for scoring at Lumine Golf Club’s Lakes Course, they holed little on the greens and lost ground in their bids to finish in the top 25 and ties who will be awarded cards after today’s sixth and final round.
Moynihan is just inside the top-25 in a nine-man logjam for 17th on 11-under par.
However, Derry’s McGee, who birdied seven of his last eight holes on Monday to make the cut, is six shots outside the top 25 on five-under.
With no wind forecast for the final day, McGee may need to shoot a seven-under 64 to move inside the magic number.
Moynihan also knows he may need to go low, especially as he is now two strokes outside the top 10 who will win far stronger cards than the players finishing between 11th and 25th.
“I probably hit the ball the best I have all week, but it was just one of those days on the greens,” said Moynihan, who struggled to read the greens and was left to rue two missed birdie chances inside 10 feet on the last two holes.
That said, he’s still in position to win his full European Tour card, having begun what has turned out to be a tremendous season with no status on any tour.
“It’s all a bonus for me this week anyway,” he added. “All I wanted to do was get into position, and I’ve done that now and I can go for it.”
McGee also got off to a slow start with nine straight pars and lamented his lack of luck with the putter after the fireworks of the previous day.
“It was a shame, because it was such a calm day that you really needed to shoot four or five under to make a bit of a move, but look, I will go for everything tomorrow and give it a lash,” said McGee.
England’s Sam Horsfield broke 70 for the fifth day running, carding a four-under 67 to lead by three on 19-under par from Denmark’s Jeff Winther, who shot a 64.
It was also a good day for European Tour winners Anders Hansen and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño — who has Alvaro Quiros caddying for him this week — as they shot 65s to move into the top 10.
Meanwhile, Tommy Fleetwood is backing himself to have the last laugh after his chances of winning the Race to Dubai for the first time were considered a joke in some quarters.
Fleetwood has set the pace for most of the season, thanks to wins in Abu Dhabi and France, two runners-up finishes and a tie for fourth in the US Open, but found his credentials as a European number one in question on social media.
“I remember seeing a Tweet somewhere and somebody laughed at the thought of me winning the Race to Dubai, so that motivated me a bit more,” said Fleetwood ahead of the decisive DP World Tour Championship.
“Somebody had put: ‘Who do you think will win?’, and I wasn’t included. [Renowned putting coach] Phil Kenyon said: ‘What about the current leader?’, and somebody laughed. Little things like that always motivate you a little bit, but I don’t remember who it was.”
Fleetwood looked a near-certainty until Justin Rose won back-to-back events in China and Turkey to slash his commanding lead, a lead he almost doubled to 256,738 points thanks to a tie for 10th in South Africa last week as Rose rested at home.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia can prevent an English champion with a fourth victory of the season in Dubai, but he also needs Fleetwood and Rose to falter.
Elaine Farquharson-Black will captain Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup for the second time when the biennial encounter against the US is played in New York next year.
Farquharson-Black led GB&I to a three-point win at Dun Laoghaire last year and will be looking to retain the trophy at Quaker Ridge from June 8-10. “I am very proud to have been selected to captain Great Britain and Ireland again and I am looking forward to the challenge of retaining the trophy after our memorable win at Dun Laoghaire last year,” said Farquharson-Black.
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