Popular Kilkenny man Gary Murphy faces a 10-round marathon to win back his European Tour card.
The affable 38-year old is just one of 12 Irishmen set to peg it up over 72 holes in the Second Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School at four venues in southern Spain from November 26-29 and, hopefully, the six round Finals in Catalunya.
Murphy retained his card at the school last December but endured a nightmare 2010 season. At 236th in the Race to Dubai standings, he is well outside the top 115 who will retain full playing rights and also beyond the the 116-145 bracket who go straight to the 108-hole final stage at PGA Catalunya near Girona from December 4-9.
The former Irish Close champion will tee it up at El Valle Golf Resort in Murcia alongside ex-Shamrock Rovers winger Stephen Grant, Mallow’s Mervyn Owens and Warrenpoint’s Barrie Trainor. At nearby Hacienda del Alamo, Muskerry’s Niall Turner will be hoping for better fortune after his reverse at the first stage of the US Tour Q-School in Texas recently.
Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney, who earned his Challenge Tour card at last year’s finals before picking up an injury, is in action at Costa Ballena near Jerez with Irish PGA and Glenmuir PGA champ David Mortimer as well as Irish Region stalwarts Michael Collins and Damian Mooney.
Ulstermen Gareth Shaw, Jonny Caldwell and Mick McGeady play at nearby Arcos Gardens, hoping to join Glasson’s Colm Moriarty in December’s finals.
Around 20 players will advance to the finals from each PQ-2 venue. After six rounds at PGA Catalunya, the top 30 and ties get cards. Officially they “will be eligible for membership in Category 11(b) of the European Tour (and Category 4(a) of the Challenge Tour) for the 2011 season and will be subject to the 2011 re-rank policy adopted by the Tournament Committee.”
Irish at PQ 2 from November 26-29
Costa Ballena, Jerez: Niall Kearney, David Mortimer, Michael Collins, Damian Mooney
Arcos Gardens, Jerez: Jonathan Caldwell, Gareth Shaw, Michael McGeady
Hacienda de Alamo, Murcia: Niall Turner
El Valle Golf Resort, Murcia: Stephen Grant, Mervyn Owens, Barrie Trainor, Gary Murphy