Gary Murphy confessed that he wanted to “smack” the slow coaches who have almost wrecked his bid to win back his European Tour card.

But the 37 year old Kilkenny man still has a fighting chance of a tour return after a battling 69 left him two shots outside the top 30 and ties entering the sixth and final round of the gruesome Qualifying School finals at PGA Golf de Catalunya.

On a sun-kissed winter's day when Simon Thornton (67) moved into the top 30 and Niall Kearney slipped to 50th after a 74, Murphy did well to keep his cool and pick up six birdies after three dropped shots in the first two holes.

“The pace of place was a disgrace,” Murphy said. “Most of the guys here haven’t a clue and it was the same yesterday.

“The two guys I played with yesterday (Dane Lasse Jensen and Italy's Marco Soffietti) were disgraceful and it affected me a little bit because I wanted to smack both of them. 

“One guy had his dad caddying for him and the other guy shouted twice when I was hitting shots. They had no idea how to play. When we were put on the clock they left me putting out and ran to the next tee.”

Co Down based Thornton, the 32 year old Huddersfield native with the Irish passport, is tied 25th on nine under after a brilliant 67 and within touching distance of a place on the European Tour. 

Six under for his round through 11 holes, he double bogeyed his 14th hole and bogeyed the next before picking up two shots in the last three holes for a 67 that keeps his tour dream alive.

"I played well but it is a marathon not a sprint and that is what I have learnt this year playing on the Challenge Tour," he said. "The Challenge Tour has shown me that I belong and getting there was a mini goal. Now the goals have changed for tomorrow." 

But it will require something special from rookie professional Kearney to make it after he failed to make a birdie in a two over 74 to go into the last day four shots outside the top 30.

“It was a pretty bog standard round to be honest but I will be giving it a bash tomorrow,” said Kearney who saved par from 10 feet at the 18th after bunkering his approach. “I certainly have nothing to lose now. 

“Knowing I had a Challenge Tour card for making the cut here took a little bit of the pressure off today but I still went out with the intention of winning my card and I will be doing the same tomorrow. I still feel I can go low and I just have to hit the shots and hole the putts.”

Murphy is playing well enough to get his card but may need to get to eight or nine under par to have a fighting chance and he is certainly capable of it on the evidence of his 69 yesterday.

The 37 year old Kilkenny man began with a double bogey at the 10th when a spectator shouted on his backswing and his ball sailed into an unplayable lie, forcing him to go back to the tee. 

He then bogeyed the next when he was plugged in a bunker but he kept his cool to birdie the 12th 15th, 18th, third, fourth and seventh.

“It was a good finish today,” said Murphy. “I am certainly a lot closer to getting my card than I was after two holes today.”

England's Simon Khan (70) leads by six shots from Walker Cup star Sam Hutsby (66) on 22 under par with the hard luck story of the day coming from Charlie Ford, who slithered from third to 34th after a horror 81.


European Tour Qualifying School final, PGA Golf de Catalunya, Stadium course (par 72) and Tour course (par 70), Girona, Spain

Leading fifth round scores (GB&I unless stated)

334 - S Khan 68 63 67 66 70
340 - S Hutsby 69 72 65 68 66
341 - C Carranza (Arg) 65 73 68 68 67, S Gallacher 68 72 68 66 67
342 - A Canizares (Spa) 74 67 61 65 75
343 - S O'Hara 68 70 68 69 68, J Elson 68 65 66 73 71, M Haastrup (Den) 69 71 68 67 68
344 - S Gross (Ger) 69 72 66 66 71, A Tadini (Ita) 68 69 69 71 67, J Sandelin (Swe) 66 69 67 70 72
345 - J Ruth 64 75 66 68 72, P Sjoland (Swe) 72 65 67 69 72, G Rosier (Fra) 71 73 67 64 70
346 - F Ohlsson (Swe) 68 70 68 69 71, M Ruiz (Par) 71 68 63 69 75, S Walker 70 64 69 69 74, C Suneson (Spa) 72 67 65 71 71, G Coetzee (RSA) 68 70 67 71 70, P Archer 68 70 67 72 69, A Haig 76 73 66 62, 69, L Gagli (Ita) 70 71 67 70 68, F Andersson Hed (Swe) 66 75 66 70 69, E Tage Johansen (Nor) 75 65 66 71 69

Irish scores
347 - S Thornton 67 75 69 69 67
349 - G Murphy 69 67 70 74 69
351 - N Kearney 72 68 68 69 74