Four of the five Irish are still in contention for European Tour cards next year after a remarkable day at the Qualifying School Final Stage at the PGA Catalunya resort in north-east Spain.
Peter Lawrie, Kevin Phelan, Simon Thornton and Gareth Maybin — the latter coming back from the dead on a day he produced 10 birdies, all made the cut and will all start this morning’s penultimate fifth round.
But the dream is over for Donegal’s Michael McGeady, who finished two-over for the day yesterday and four over in total for tied 111th.
Phelan is best-placed of the Irish challenge, tied for 26th on six-under, seven shots off the pace being set by England’s Matt Ford. But, with only the top 25 and ties guaranteed full European Tour status in 2015, the Waterford man, along with the other trio, know they’ve ground to make up.
“I had a good start, I struggled around the middle but I finished quite well so I’m happy enough,” said 24-year-old Phelan, who netted four birdies.
“I’m playing quite well, I’ve missed a few chances and didn’t score as well as I could have the last few days but I had a really good back nine on Monday to finish and had a really good back nine yesterday, so that keeps my momentum going.
“Focus on what’s in front of you and hit one shot every time and that’s really all you can do. It’s just the same every day, hit it down the fairway and hit it on the green and hole the putts. ”
Lawrie, meanwhile, was coolness personified for his opening nine holes yesterday which saw him almost break into the top 10 before the wheels came off on the home stretch.
He faltered with three bogeys and a treble on the back nine for a round of 74 which saw him drop 19 places to joint 37th, eight shots off the lead.
Similarly, Simon Thornton had a round of 76 to forget, but the Royal County Down man remains upbeat, hoping it was an aberration.
“Yesterday was just about getting through it, you’ve just got to keep yourself in contention, 76 wasn’t great but it is what it is.
“I didn’t play great today but overall I’m feeling good and I’m in the right position. I shot four over today, my worst round of the week, so hopefully that’s it out of the way.
“I’ve been playing well, striking it nicely and hitting lots of fairways and lots of greens so I’m looking forward to the next couple of days.”
Huge credit must go to Gareth Maybin, who hauled himself back from the dead after a tremendous round of 65. The Belfast man hasn’t broken 70 this week and it was still touch and go whether he’d make the cut with three holes to play, following a double bogey on 15, but three birdies to close saw him leap up to joint 54th on two-under.
For Michael McGeady, however, there was only regrets.
“Disappointment is the overall feeling,” he said disconsolately.
“I didn’t play brilliantly well all week. I put a good score in yesterday on the tougher Stadium Course and that gave me a chance today but I just didn’t take it.
“I’ll just have to sit back now and assess what the future holds. As far as golf is concerned I’m not sure what to do. I’m sort of at that stage now where I’m late 30s and I’m thinking ‘is this what I want to do?’ and I’m not sure.
“The Challenge Tour doesn’t interest me. I’ve a family now and I’ve to look after them and the prize fund there doesn’t cover your costs. You need to be heavily sponsored to compete there, but I’m not.”
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