Big break. Mark Murphy can thanks his lucky stars after scraping through the Stage One of the European Tour Qualifying SchoolMark Staunton roared top spot and Peter O’Keeffe made it an Irish one-two in the European Tour Qualifying School First Stage at the Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course in Scotland.

But it took a late birdie from Waterville’s Mark Murphy to squeak into November’s Second Stage in Spain with nothing to spare.


Struggling with his game all week, the 34-year old Kerryman was one over par for the day and a shot outside the eventual three over par qualifying mark with two holes to play.

Mark Staunton with the European Tour’s Craig Montgomerie. Picture courtesy EuropeanTour.comBut he birdied the 17th and parred the last for a 72 that was good enough to survive as ten players progressed from the Kelso venue.

Six shots clear overnight, 30-year old Ballinasloe professional Staunton closed with a 71 to win the qualifier by an impressive eight shots on 12 under par.

However, he knows there’s still a long way to go before he can start celebrating and insisted: “I won’t be getting excited yet. It’s only the start.”

O’Keeffe, who is doing his PGA training under his coach Fred Twomey at Muskerry, was pleased to finish second on four under after a 73.

But there was no luck for Belfast’s Damian Mooney, who missed out by three shots on six over after a closing 74

French amateur Edouard Espana led the 18 qualifiers by three shots at Ebreichsdorf in Austria. {Scores}

The top 15 and ties finished on three under or better.