Walton battles back at Q-School

Street fighter Philip Walton battled his way into contention for his European Tour card and roared: “I’ll never give up.”

The Dubliner, 44, scorched up the leaderboard with a superb three under par 69 in the third round of the gruelling Qualifying School finals at San Roque in Spain.

And that moved him from 93rd overnight to a share of 58th place on two over par - just three shots out the top 30 who earn their cards after six rounds.

Waterville’s David Higgins is also looking good in his bad to retain his card after firing a one over par 73 on the Old Course to share 23rd place on one under.

But the performance of the day came from 1995 Ryder Cup hero Walton, who hit five birdies and just two bogeys on the New Course in brilliant sunshine.

Back at the School for the eighth time, Walton vowed to keep coming back for as long as it takes.

But the Dubliner can still get back on the tour next year after a sensational display of ball-striking and some brilliant putting.

Starting on the back nine, he crashed to six over par for the tournament with an early bogey at the 12th but stormed back with four birdies in a row from the 13th to get his card quest up and running.

After rifling a five-iron to 20 feet at the par three 13th, he drained an 18 footer at the next and then rapped home a 25 footer at the 15th to go two under for the day.

A superb bunker shot to just ONE INCH at the par five 16th gave him another massive boost and he kept this round on track with a Seve-like par save at the 446-yard first.

He explained: “I made a great four there. I was left off the tee, hit a tree and then I hit a four-iron into the trees but got a nice lie for a change and pitched it up over one of the trees and the trap to about four feet.”

Walton kept it going with par saves of between four and six feet at the fourth and fifth before draining another 20 footer for birdies at the sixth to go four under for the day.

His only mistake coming home came at the 225 yard eighth where he left his 40 foot birdie putt less than three feet short and never touched the hole with the next.

Walton added: “There’s always one but you just have to keep going. I swung the club better today. I drove it well and I'm moving forward which is what matters.

“I was having a chat with my caddie Stephen Byrne last night and we thought that two rounds of 68 over the next two days would see us right.

“I missed that by one today but I am back in there again. So let's see if I can have another good one on the Old Course tomorrow. I like the look of the greens there.”

Higgins’ 73 left him 12 shots behind leader Carlos Rodiles of Spain, who fired a 69 on the Old Course to lead by three shots on 13 under from English amateur starlet Oliver Fisher.

The Waterville man had three birdies and four bogeys on a course that was only brought back into play yesterday after last week's heavy rain left it unplayable.

After closing with a birdie at the ninth, Higgins said: "It is playing very long and if you miss the fairway by just a few feet, as I did a couple of times today, you get big lumps of mud on the ball.

“If it plugs you're okay because you can clean and drop it. But I dropped shots on the 11th and the eighth I dropped shots that way.

“I have no idea what score I might need to qualify. I am just trying to play as well as I can and keep going.”