Brian Keogh at San Roque
Like a boxer recovering from two trips to the canvas in the opening round, Colm Moriarty picked himself up, dusted himself down and delivered a couple of haymakers to the golfing gods in the European Tour Qualifying School Finals at a blustery San Roque Club.
Taking your lumps and giving a few back in return is part and parcel of the 108-hole torture chamber otherwise known as the School.
And after a couple of early double bogeys on the New Course threatened to completely undo him, the Glasson professional showed considerable ‘sang froid’ to stem the damage of two further bogeys with five birdies, two of them in his last three holes, for a one over par 73.
The top 30 and ties after six rounds will graduate to the 2008 European Tour with honours and at one-under par, the 28-year-old Glasson professional is well-placed, albeit precariously, in a 22-way tie for 29th after two rounds of a six round marathon.
"I am one under and it is a good start and leaves me in a nice position. I was just struggling with my commitment and focus out there today,” said Moriarty, who neatly birdied the par-five seventh and then almost holed his four-iron tee shot at the 225-yard eighth on his way home.
"But it is such a long week, you just have to keep giving yourself chances and try to keep the big numbers off your card."
As overnight leader Robert Coles faded from first to 66th with a 79, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal made a mockery of windy conditions to card an immaculate, six under par 66 and lead a stroke from Portugal’s Tiago Cruz and South Africa’s Thomas Aiken on seven under par.
Belfast’s Damian Mooney ground out a level par 72 on the Old Course to remain very alive on three over par. Yet while he climbed to 28 places to 94th, the 39-year-old still has work to do to make the 72-hole cut for the top 70 and ties tomorrow evening.
“I ground it out in the wind because it was tough clubbing yourself today,” Mooney said, perusing the giant leaderboard in front of the clubhouse. “I birdied the last to shoot level and holed a few nice putts coming in. It is still early days and getting in the top 30 is the thing. It is a grind at the minute but I will stay patient and keep going.”
Two more 72s would be more than enough for Mooney, but Dubliner Stephen Browne needs to find some red numbers quickly after a two-over par 74 on the Old Course saw him drift four strokes shy of the top 70 at five over par.
“I battled away and limited the damage to some extent,” said Browne, who phoned his coach Brendan McDaid for advice on Thursday evening. “But it's damage to the leaderboard I need to be doing and I am just not playing well enough to do it at the moment.”
At the other end of the leaderboard, things looked bleak for Douglas’s Peter O’Keeffe and Derry man Michael McGeady as they both signed wistfully for rounds of 78 on the New Course to slither to eight and nine over par respectively.
As for the bigger names taking part, 48-year-old Australian Peter Senior hit a five under par 67 to move from 82nd to tied fifth but 1999 Ryder Cup star Andrew Coltart’s 77 left him in the same boat as Browne in a share of 120th on five over par