Seven-birdie blitz keeps Ruaidhri McGee in Tour card hunt

Gavin Moynihan is challenging for overall victory, but Derry’s Ruaidhri McGee still has a chance of winning his European Tour card after he sensationally rattled in seven birdies in his last eight holes to make the cut at the nerve-shredding Qualifying School in Spain.

Three strokes outside the projected 72-hole cut mark overnight, the 26-year-old looked out for the count when he went to the turn in two over par at Lumine Golf Club’s tight and tricky Hills Course near Tarragona.

He was five shots outside salvation at that stage, but with nothing to lose, he produced the best back nine of the day — a scorching seven-under 29 — as a five-under 67 catapulted him 30 spots up the leaderboard to tied 50th.

“I needed them,” McGee said of the birdie barrage that leaves him just three strokes outside the top 25-and-ties who will be awarded cards after tomorrow’s sixth round. “I don’t know what happened. I just holed a whole load of putts. I needed to do something and they just started going in.

“When you are out of the tournament, you maybe chill out a bit and that’s what happened. I was five outside the cut mark and nowhere near and then it all changed.”

Moynihan played the Lakes Course and continued his seemingly inexorable journey towards a full card when he posted a bogey-free, three-under 68 to move up to tied eighth on 10-under par, just five strokes behind England’s Sam Horsfield, who shot 68 to lead by a shot from compatriot Charlie Ford (63 yesterday) on 15-under-par.

Ardglass’s Cormac Sharvin got back to the cut line when he turned in three-under par after an immaculate journey around the back nine at the Hills Course, but he bogeyed three of his first six holes on his homeward nine and shot a level par 72 to miss out by three shots.

Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy finished four shots further back after a one-over 73 at the same track. Unlike Sharvin, he doesn’t have a full Challenge Tour card, but by making the Final Stage of Q-School he has improved his lot and will get up to 14 starts on the second-tier tour next year.

McGee is now also guaranteed full Challenge Tour status, which is something he needed after finishing 80th in the rankings in his third full season this year.

However, he now has his eyes on the big prize after his putter suddenly caught fire on a cool but sunny day on the Catalan coast, firing four birdies in a row from the 11th, before a near miss at the 15th, with three more to finish.

“Not counting one putt from off the green, I only had 11 putts on the back nine,” said McGee, who holed four birdie putts between 12 and 15 feet and tapped in for the other three at the par-five 11th and 16th and the driveable 12th.

“It’s funny to go from being right out of the tournament to being right back in the middle of it. You are never that far away and, over the last two rounds, anything can happen.

“Let’s see if I can get the job done and then roll up in the New Year, ready to rock.”

Moynihan has his sights set on a top-10 finish, as it would give him a far superior category of membership to the players who finish between 11th and 25th this week.

He already knows he will get a dozen European Tour starts next year and admitted yesterday that he could not be more relaxed.

“I am so relaxed out there, it’s a joke,” he said after making three birdies in an almost faultless display on another windy day in Tarragona.

“Even when the ball got stuck up the tree the other day, it didn’t bother me. Last year, I’d have lost the plot.” See Digest


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