Crunch time at San Roque

From Brian Keogh at San Roque

Stephen Browne and Colm Moriarty must go low to clinch their European Tour cards at San Roque today.

But while Moriarty believes that he could need a seven under par 65 to haul himself from tied 60th into the vital top 30, experience tells Browne that anything under par might be enough as the pressure mounts in the sixth and final round.

After carding a one under par 71 to Moriarty’s 72 on the Old Course and with bad weather forecast today, 52nd placed Browne is not so sure that it will take a scintillating final round effort to close the four shot gap on the top 30 and ties who get their cards.

“It's not time for panicking yet,” said Browne, who moved up 12 spots to level par for the tournament and within four shots of the top 30. “I know I will have to play well, but you have to play well even if you are on the mark.

"I don't think it will take a 65. I am only three shots off tied 32nd, which is just one shot away from a card.

"I was outside the cards in '04 and I shot 70 on the Old Course in the last round to move up and get on the tour. So it could be a similar day tomorrow."

Still tied for 60th, Moriarty burned the hole several times in his 72 and while he was disappointed not to birdie his final hole - the par-five ninth - he struggled at times with his swing on a perfect day for golf.

"I didn't play well enough to go really low,” said Moriarty, who is five shots outside the top 30 on one-over par. “I suppose two or three under would have been a good result but at least I have a chance going into tomorrow.

“You will probably need to shoot six or seven under par tomorrow so I will go out with an aggressive mindset. At least I know what I have to do.”

Browne felt he “played super” for his 71 though he had to birdie his 16th, the 200-yard seventh, and save par from six feet at the next to break par on a day when Austria’s Martin Wiegele hit 10 birdies in an eight under par 64 to lead by four shots from South Africa’s Thomas Aiken and Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal on 15 under par.

“There was a four or five under there for me today,” said Browne, who had two birdies and just one bogey on his card. “I only hit one bad shot, a tee shot I pulled in the water on the 18th, which was my ninth.

“I made a good up and down there for the bogey. Hopefully I can play as well tomorrow and hole a few putts as well. I haven't played my way out of it.”

Preferred lies were in operation yesterday in anticipation of a deluge that failed to arrive but is now predicted to hit the New Course during tomorrow’s final round.

The weather could help the Irish cause but won't worry leader Wiegele, 29, who hopes he can Markus Brier on the tour next season with a victory under his belt.

"I shot 64 on the Challenge Tour this year but I think under the circumstances and considering the difficulty of the golf course, that 64 is an unbelievable score, “ Wiegele said.

"I think I holed three putts from 35 feet and you don't expect to hole three of those in one day but you need to do that if you are going to shoot 64 around here."

With countrymen Florian Praegant tied fifth and Roland Steiner just one shot outside the cards on two under, Austria could have four tour players in 2008.

Wiegele added: "The most players we've ever had on tour is two. There could be four of us tomorrow which would be more than anyone at home would have expected."

England's Lee Slattery, who missed his card by just €77 this year, is fourth on nine under par after 70.

But Germany Marcel Siem, a World Cup winner with Bernhard Langer just 12 months ago, is two strokes outside the top 30 in tied 42nd on two under par.