McIlroy closes in on Q-School success

By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy is just one round away from cruising into the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.

But the Holywood ace, 18, was completely overshadowed at The Oxfordshire by little-known Zimbabwean Tongo Charamba.

Ranked 42nd on Africa's Sunshine Tour, Charamba thought his hopes of qualifying were dashed when his regular caddie was refused a visa to travel to the UK.

But with a local club member on his bag he shot a nine-under par 63 yesterday to lead the Section A qualifier on 19 under par - 11 shots clear of McIlroy.

The Ulster teenager had three birdies and two bogeys in a one-under par 71 to share ninth place on eight under par - comfortably inside the top 29 and ties who go through.

And his caddie Gordon Faulkner explained that it could easily have been four shots better

Faulkner said: "It could have been a 67 if a couple of putts had dropped just as his 67 in the second round could have been a 65 or 64.”

Belfast's Damian Mooney looking good to progress to Stage Two as a level par 72 left him in a share of 18th place on six under.

Eamonn Brady missed the 54-hole cut by seven shots after a 73 left him on three over.

But there was good news for the Irish at Fleesensee in Germany where Stackstown's Michael McDermott is tied for fifth on nine under after a third round 70.

Mark Campbell is also well placed to finish inside the top 26 and ties after a level par 72 left him tied for 16th.

But Paul McLoughlin, already 18 over par after two rounds, was disqualified when he failed to hole out on the 18th.

At Chart Hills, Derry's Mick Geady blasted a 68 to share the provisional lead on eight under par with two groups to complete their second rounds today.

Fog delayed play by two hours with play going on until 7.45 pm before darkness forced a halt to proceedings.

Ulsterman Chris Devlin (69) and Glen Robinson (71) and Gary Cullen (71) are tied for fifth on six under with the top 27th and ties progressing.

Mark Staunton (72) is just one stroke outside that mark on level par with David Mortimer (72) on one over and Brendan McGovern (72) a shot further back.

Peter Williamson (73) needs a low round after slipping to tied 50th on four over with Waterville's Mark Murphy (79), David Jones (73) and Michael Collins (76) tied for 54th on five over.

John Kelly (73) is tied for 61st on seven over par with Ted Higgins certain to miss the 54-hole cut after an 82 left him well down the field on 23 over par.