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Higgins and O'Keeffe see red at Q-School

Peter O’Keeffe rips a long iron down the ninth on the Tour Course at PGA Catalunya Resort. David Higgins found his putting touch to fire a sensational six under 64 on the Tour Course and get within two shots of the lead after the second round of the marathon European Tour Qualifying School final stage at the PGA Catalunya Resort.

As Douglas’ Peter O’Keeffe came back from the dead by following his opening, wind-blown 81 with a five under 65 to keep alive his hopes of making the cut on Tuesday, 39-year old Higgins made six birdies in an immaculate round to share seventh place on five under par.

Getting back on tour would be a dream come true for the Waterville man but he knows he must continue to hole the putts as he chases a place among the top 25 and ties will be awarded tour cards at the end of the gruelling, six-round test.

“I played well today and I’m delighted with my position,” said Higgins who didn’t have to hole a putt longer than 15 feet on a flat calm day at the 36-hole complex just over an hour north of Barcelona.

“As I said yesterday, you have score well on the Tour Course because the other one is very tough.

“When you get on a course like that one today and hole a few putts you are going to be under par and I did that today. I’m in a good position but there is still a long way to go. But if I can keep doing what I am doing, I will be fine.”

Overnight leader Estanislao Goya of Argentina hit a one under 71 on the tough Stadium Course to lead by a stroke on seven under from a quintet of players including Finland’s Mikko Korhonen who shot a 62 on the Tour Course.

His play appeared to inspire playing partner O’Keeffe, who moved to within two shots of the top 70 who will make the four-round cut after picking up seven birdies in a 65 he reckoned could easily have been a 60.

Seven under for his round with five holes to play, the Muskerry assistant bogeyed the fifth and then three-putted twice coming home - for par at the long seventh and for bogey at the ninth, where his slick 20 footer missed well to the right and he pushed the three-footer for par.

“That was a round that had to happen,” said O’Keeffe, who moved up 50 places to joint 100th on four over. “Obviously after starting with 81 it’s a tough battle but I knew I was playing well and I’d prepared well.

“A few putts got away from me and it could have easily been five shots better. I was three under going out and left three shots behind me and definitely left three behind me coming in, three-putting the par-five seventh, missing a good chance from about eight feet on eight and then three-putting the last.

“I only made one big putt for birdie - a 25 footer on the fourth. The rest were inside three or four feet but striking wise the game is definitely getting better and I am optimistic for the rest of the week.”

Simon Thornton works on his putting following a disappointing finish to his second round,a three over 75 on the Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya Resort.Ballymena’s Chris Devlin shot a one over 73 on the Stadium Course to share 66th spot on two over with Dubliner Niall Kearney a shot further back in 83rd after putting poorly for a 72 there.

Devlin broke his driver in practice but none of the replacements he has used have pleased him and he lost confidence with the big stick over his closing nine holes, which he played in three over par.

“I was getting it around just fine but I hit it awful on the back nine,” Devlin said. “I hit a disconcerting tee shot on my ninth hole but managed to make a par. But that seemed to seep into my driving on the back nine.

“I felt really lethargic too and didn’t feel myself and I need to get myself up and play more aggressively instead of playing a little fearfully. There is plenty of time left but I have to score a little better because I know I am capable of some low rounds out here. The putts just aren’t dropping. “

Kearney made three birdies and three bogeys with all three birdies coming on the par fives.

I played well but I am putting really badly,” Kearney said. “It’s disappointing.

“They way I am hitting the ball I should be three under not three over and that gets into your head a little bit. I am playing okay and hitting my yardages but just not getting the ball in the hole.”

Chris Devlin knows he has to loosen up, get aggressive and make some putts. Royal County Down’s Simon Thornton headed straight for the putting green after finishing with back-to-back bogeys for a three over 75 that left him tied with O’Keeffe on four over while Lurgan’s Gareth Shaw followed an 81 on the Stadium Course with a three over 73 on the Tour track to slip to the back of the field on 12 over.

After missing several birdie chances early in his round Shaw racked up a triple bogey seven at the fifth. And while he came home in one under with three birdies on his card, he had a bogey at the 13th and double bogeyed six the 17th.

“I hit 14 or 15 greens but the bad shots are not good enough and I’m not holing any putts,” Shaw said. “I just couldn’t get anything going.

“But I’ll be back here again in the years to come so hopefully I can learn more about it over the next few days and it will stand to me. It’s not going to be for me this year.”

European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage

PGA Catalunya Resort, Girona (Stadium Course par 72, Tour Course par 70)

135 E Goya (Arg) 64 71;

136 A Snobeck (Fra) 69 67, M Lundberg (Swe) 68 68, M Delpodio (Ita) 67 69, M Korhonen (Fin) 74 62, G Orr (Sco) 67 69;

137 J Lagergren (Swe) 71 66, G Murray (Sco) 66 71, David Higgins (Irl) 73 64, O Floren (Swe) 71 66, M Lampert (am) (Ger) 70 67;

138 D Im (USA) 72 66, S Little (Eng) 70 68, A Sullivan (Eng) 71 67;

139 C Kim (USA) 73 66, P Erofejeff (Fin) 72 67, R McEvoy (Eng) 67 72, P Hedblom (Swe) 70 69, D Griffiths (Eng) 67 72;

140 S Norris (RSA) 68 72, M Brier (Aut) 71 69, T Van Der Walt (RSA) 71 69, T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 69 71, A Levy (Fra) 68 72, A Domingo (Esp) 70 70, E De La Riva (Esp) 70 70, A Forsyth (Sco) 75 65, B Ritthammer (Ger) 69 71, S Arnold (Aus) 67 73, T Murray (Eng) 68 72, M Crespi (Ita) 72 68, M Nixon (Eng) 68 72;

141 B An (Kor) 69 72, J Ruth (Eng) 70 71, M Sell (Eng) 74 67, J McLeary (Sco) 69 72, C Del Moral (Esp) 70 71, J Glennemo (Swe) 72 69;

142 C Macaulay (Sco) 71 71, J Howarth (Eng) 75 67, A Marshall (Eng) 75 67, S Strange (Aus) 75 67, W Besseling (Ned) 69 73, J Parry (Eng) 71 71, S Hutsby (Eng) 74 68, D Gaunt (Aus) 74 68, R Davies (Wal) 68 74, C Lloyd (Eng) 73 69, H Bacher (Aut) 74 68, M Southgate (Eng) 72 70, B Åkesson (Swe) 70 72;

143 M Jonzon (Swe) 74 69, O Wilson (Eng) 75 68, A Rota (Ita) 74 69, M Glauert (Ger) 73 70, A Johnansson (Swe) 76 67, D Vancsik (Arg) 75 68, J Hugo (RSA) 71 72, Å Nilsson (Swe) 74 69, T Remkes (Ned) 71 72, S Garcia Rodriguez (Esp) 73 70, L Goddard (Eng) 72 71, J Timmis (Eng) 74 69, J Lima (Por) 76 67, C Brazillier (Fra) 69 74;

144 M Madsen (Den) 78 66, L Kennedy (Eng) 73 71, D Perrier (Fra) 73 71, L Jensen (Den) 70 74, R Kakko (Fin) 74 70, O Lieser (Cze) 74 70, B Henson (USA) 76 68, R Blizard (Aus) 75 69, F Bergamaschi (Ita) 76 68, S Tiley (Eng) 77 67, W Bennett (Eng) 77 67, S Drummond (Sco) 76 68, N Ravano (Ita) 74 70, F Calmels (Fra) 72 72, Chris Devlin (Nir) 71 73, C Monasterio (Arg) 72 72, B Koepka (USA) 73 71;

145 S Kim (Kor) 78 67, S Fallon (Eng) 73 72, J Watts (Eng) 77 68, A Hansen (Den) 71 74, L Bond (Wal) 76 69, S Benson (Eng) 75 70, D Kemmer (USA) 79 66, N Kearney (Irl) 73 72, O Bekker (RSA) 73 72, N Schietekat (RSA) 70 75, S Hong (Kor) 71 74, S Whiffin (Eng) 75 70, D Brooks (Eng) 71 74, B Dredge (Wal) 70 75, G Clark (Eng) 78 67, R Russell (Sco) 73 72, A Saddier (am) (Fra) 80 65;

146 G Boyd (Eng) 76 70, Peter O’Keeffe (Ire) 81 65, D Dixon (Eng) 72 74, D Frittelli (RSA) 76 70, M Tunnicliff (Eng) 74 72, J Scrivener (Aus) 77 69, J Jeong (Kor) 80 66, T Haylock (Eng) 74 72, Simon Thornton (Irl) 71 75, J Barnes (Eng) 77 69, J Huldahl (Den) 76 70;

147 M Zions (Aus) 74 73, A McArthur (Sco) 80 67, P Edberg (Swe) 72 75, S Dodd (Wal) 77 70, A Otaegui (Esp) 77 70, I Pyman (Eng) 76 71, M Haastrup (Den) 72 75, N Floren (Swe) 80 67, J Sandelin (Swe) 75 72, S Walker (Eng) 74 73, K Pratt (Aus) 72 75;

148 R Hjelm (Den) 77 71, T Pilkadaris (Aus) 75 73, C Aguilar (Esp) 77 71, Z Scotland (Eng) 76 72, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 74 74, P Broadhurst (Eng) 74 74, R Karlberg (Swe) 75 73, J Harding (RSA) 74 74, A Haig (RSA) 76 72, M Siddikur (Ban) 75 73, R McGowan (Eng) 77 71, W Booth (Sco) 77 71;

149 C Suneson (Esp) 74 75, K Borsheim (Nor) 78 71, J Grillon (Fra) 72 77, T Sluiter (Ned) 81 68, S Jeppesen (Swe) 78 71, J Bäckström (Swe) 77 72;

150 P Martin (Esp) 81 69, M Grönberg (Swe) 75 75, P Maddy (Eng) 78 72, O Rozner (am) (Fra) 74 76;

151 K Ferrie (Eng) 80 71, J Lerchedahl (Den) 76 75, G Stal (Fra) 81 70, G Cambis (Fra) 73 78, D Huizing (Ned) 70 81;

152 P Uihlein (USA) 75 77, P Archer (Eng) 80 72;

153 O Henningsson (Swe) 79 74, N Dougherty (Eng) 80 73;

154 C Aronsen (Nor) 74 80, Gareth Shaw (Nir) 81 73;

156 J Gallegos (am) (Esp) 80 76;

162 D Wuensche (Ger) 86 76.