From Brian Keogh at San Roque
Colm Moriarty recovered impressively from a brace of early double bogeys to remain on course for his card in the torturous European Tour Qualifying School Finals at San Roque.
But apart from a grinding level par 72 by Belfast’s Damian Mooney, Irish hopes took a battering from the stiff breeze that whipped across the Old and New Courses on the Cadiz coast.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, 24, cracked an immaculate six under par 66 on the New to top the leaderboard by a stroke from Portugal’s Tiago Cruz and South Africa’s Thomas Aiken on seven under par.
Moriarty birdied two of his last three holes for a one over par 73 on the New Course that left him in a 22-way share of 29th place on one under par - just inside the top 30 and ties who get cards.
"I am one under and it is a good start and leaves me in a nice position," said Moriarty, who had five birdies, two bogeys and those two doubles. "I was just struggling with my commitment and focus out there today. 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."
Mooney moved up nearly 30 spots to share 94th place on three over after his 72 on the Old Course but is still two shots outside the top 70 who make the 72-hole cut.
But it is an even steeper climb now for Dublin's Stephen Browne, whose 74 on the Old Course left him tied for 120th on five-over par and in danger of making an early exit.
“I battled away and limited the damage to some extent,” Browne said. “But it's damage to the leaderboard I need to be doing. I am just not playing well enough to do it.”
Douglas’ Peter O'Keeffe and Derry's Michael McGeady need two low rounds to survive the cut after disastrous 78s on the New Course left them near the back of the 156-man field on eight and nine over par respectively.