Q-School reaches climax

Brian Keogh at San Roque

Athlone’s Colm Moriarty believes it will take something special but Dubliner Stephen Browne is not so sure that he will have to shoot the lights out to clinch his card in the final round of the nerve-shredding European Tour Qualifying School Finals at The San Roque Club.

While Moriarty finished the day where he started, tied for 60th place on one over par, he is five shots outside the top 30 and ties who will earn cards today after a grinding, level par 72 on the Old Course.

Playing partner Browne got little reward on the greens as he mixed two birdies and one bogey in a 71 to get back to level par for the tournament and share 52nd place ahead of the sixth and final round on the New Course, four shots outside the vital top 30.

Preferred lies where in operation yesterday in anticipation of a deluge from the west. But conditions remained perfect and the wind and rain is now predicted to hit the 70-man field with full force at around 3 pm today.

The weather gods could prove to be powerful allies for the Irish pair, yet while they are separated by just one stroke, they are taking markedly different approaches to the most important round of their year.

“You will probably need to shoot six or seven under par tomorrow,” said Athlone man Moriarty, who struggled with his swing early in his round and burned the edge on several greens. “I will go out with an aggressive mindset. At least I know what I have to do: Go low.”

Browne has fond memories of the New Course, where he shared 21st place in last year’s Spanish Open. He also knows what it’s like to come through in the final round after a closing 70 in the 2004 finals earned him his card for the first time,

“It's not time for panicking yet,” said Browne, who felt he played well enough yesterday to shoot four or five under par. “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."

Austria’s Martin Wiegele carded ten birdies, including four in a row from the 15th, in an eight under par 64 to lead the tournament by four shots from South Africa's Thomas Aiken and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal on 15 under par.

England's Lee Slattery, who missed his card by just €77 this year, is fourth on nine under par after 70 but with 51 players on one under par or better, the battle for a place on the 2008 European Tour will prove to be as fraught as ever.