Four Irish hopefuls will begin their final journey towards a European Tour card in the last Qualifying School stage at Lumine, Spain, today.
Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass), Walker Cup winner in 2015, navigated his way through the previous stage at Desert Springs to take one of the 22 places on offer there.
Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy just edged through at El Saler, finishing one stroke ahead of the cut-off point.
The final round at Panoramica was postponed and so Ruaidhri McGee had to wait until Tuesday to book his place at the final stage, but he did so comfortably.
The trio are joined by Gavin Moynihan (Mount Juliet), who helped GB&I to victory in the Walker Cup alongside Sharvin.
Moynihan said: “I’ve had a break off after the Challenge Tour season and I’m feeling fresh. Considering it’s final stage, it’s a pretty relaxed week for me this week. The ranking I have from the Challenge Tour will give me a good number of European Tour starts anyway, so I can just go for it this week; if I play well, great; if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world for me.
“I might take a few drivers when I normally wouldn’t, go after a few pins when I wouldn’t in a normal 72-hole tournament, so I’m looking forward to it. I started the year with nothing, absolutely nothing. I was at the EuroPro Q-School in March just trying to get a bit of form going, so to have had the year I’ve had is incredible, really.
“I couldn’t really have asked for anything better than this year. I did well at the Irish Open and in the Alfred Dunhill Links, contended for a couple of Challenge Tour titles, but the biggest thing was I only missed two cuts. I think last year I only made about three.
“To have played a full season and been that consistent was very pleasing and, overall, it’s been such a positive year that I can just look forward to this week and see it as a bonus if it all goes well. I’ve got nothing to lose, so I’m going to be aggressive and see how it ends up.”
The quartet will face strong competition from 2008 Ryder Cup star Oliver Wilson, former Amateur Championship winners Scott Gregory, Garrick Porteous, Jin Jeong, ex-European Amateur champion Manuel Trappel and Walker Cup winners Ewen Ferguson and Grant Forrest. Indeed, no fewer than 30 European Tour winners are in the 156-man field this week, led by Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño with seven titles, a figure matched by the Spaniard’s caddie for the tournament, Alvaro Quiros.
Experienced campaigners such as Simon Dyson, Anders Hansen and Niclas Fasth — one of two former Ryder Cup players in the field, along with Oliver Wilson — are hoping to prolong their careers at the top of the European game.
David Law could be viewed as the defending champion, having won second stage at Lumine 12 months ago. The Scot is aiming to end a difficult year with a good performance, having made the four-round cut, but failing to earn a European Tour card for each of the last two years at final stage.
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