From Brian Keogh at San Roque
Ireland’s Stephen Browne and Colm Moriarty have left themselves a mountain to climb entering the sixth and final round of the gruelling European Tour Qualifying School at San Roque.
Paired together on the Old Course, Browne fired a one under par 71 to get back to even par for the tournament with Moriarty back where he started the day on one-over after a level par 72.
The top 30 and ties after six rounds will earn cards for 2008 but with 31 players on four under par or better, both men know that they must break par to have any chance of making the grade.
Bad weather has been forecast for the final round of a 108-hole marathon and that could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Irish duo as they face an arduous climb up a packed leaderboard.
Moriarty is tied for 60th place after struggling with his swing at times before signing for a level par round that featured three birdies and three bogeys.
And while he believes he may have to shoot a 65 or 66 to progress, housemate Browne reckons that the pressure and weather could see the field come back to them on a course where he finished 21st in last year’s Andalucia Open de Espana.
“It's not time for panicking yet,” said Browne, who had two birdies and just one bogey in his 71. “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 blasted ten birdies an eight under par 64 - four of them in his last four holes - to lead by four shots from South Africa's Thomas Aiken and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal on 15 under par.
Wiegele said: "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.
"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."
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, it is going to be a cavalry charge to finish in the top 30 and ties.