David Higgins is closing in on his tour card. Picture Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieClandeboye’s Jonny Caldwell survived a three-hole playoff to keep his European Tour dream alive and give Ireland four runners in the Q-School finals from December 10-15.

Waterville’s David Higgins and Limerick’s Cian McNamara qualified with a shot to spare at Las Colinas Golf and Country Club in Alicante while Ballymena’s Chris Devlin fired a brilliant, four under 67 to finish two shots inside the mark at El Valle in Murcia.

The Florida based Ulsterman, who arrived in Spain looking for his dream after falling at the second stage of the US Q-School, was two shots outside the mark with nine holes to play.

But he bravely stormed home in 31 by following a birdie at the 10th with another three in the last five holes.

Caldwell made life tough for himself when he bogeyed the last at the same venue for a 70 that left him in a four-way tie for 18th on one-under. But with only 81 players progressing from the four Stage Two venues, the 2007 Walker Cup player was forced to play-off for his place in the final stage.

In the end it took three extra holes to decide matters but three pars were enough for Caldwell, Sweden’s Mattias Eliasson and Canadian Andrew Parr to progress at the expense of Spaniard Jordi Garcia Pinto, who secured alternate status.

Ballinasloe’s Mark Staunton made a brave fightback from a triple bogey at the 11th and a bogey at the 12th but while he picked up two birdies on the run home, he missed out by a stroke on 284 after a 73.

Former Shamrock Rovers footballer Stephen Grant (73) had too many indifferent days on the greens as he finished a shot further back on 285 while Muskerry’s Niall Turner (73), was never quite at his best due to a hip injury and ended up taking five too many over the 72 holes.

At Las Colinas, Dutchman Tim Sluiter topped the leaderboard by two shots on 16 under par as 39-year old Higgins fired a bogey free, three under 68 and McNamara a faultless 69 to share 16th place on four under par .

The qualifying mark was three under par 281 which left Douglas’ Aaron O’Callaghan (71) two shots outside the mark and Dubliner Niall Kearney (71) three shots short.

Three Irishmen were in action at La Manga Club where Italian Andrea Perrino and South Africa’s Allan Versfeld led 20 successful qualifiers on 15 under.

The axe fell at seven under 285 but Royal Dublin’s Neil O’Briain, was tied for ninth going into the final round, slipped to a 76 and missed out by three shots.

The Dubliner finished tied for 30th with Mick McGeady (71) on four under 288 with Challenge Tour regular Colm Moriarty missing out by five shots on 290 after a closing 70.

The 81 players who progressed from the Second Stage will now join the 75 exempt players for the six-round Final Stage, which starts on Saturday at PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, Spain.

The top 30 and ties after six rounds will earn European Tour cards while the top 70 and ties who make the 72-hole cut will be guaranteed full status on the Challenge Tour.


European Tour Qualifying School - Second stage

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club, Alicante

Qualifiers - 20 players on 281 or better (-3)
1 Tim Sluiter (Ned) 69 65 66 68 268 (-16)
T16 David Higgins 68 69 75 68 280(-4)  
T16 Cian McNamara 67 73 71 69 280 (-4)

T26 Aaron O’Callaghan 68 74 70 71 283 (-1)
T31 Niall Kearney 72 73 68 71 284 (E)
74 Brendan McCarroll 78 75 77 78 308 (+24)

El Valle Golf Resort, Murcia

Qualifiers - 20 players on 281 or better (-1)

1 Joakim Largergren (Swe) 63 69 65 69 266 (-18)
T14 Chris Devlin 69 72 72 67 283 (-3)
T18 Jonny Caldwell  69 72 72 70 283 (-1) After 4-man play-off for three spots (Par-Par-Par)

T22 Mark Staunton 69 72 70 73 284 (E)
T25 Stephen Grant 72 74 66 73 285 (+1)
T33 Niall Turner 72 69 74 73 288 (+4)

La Manga Club, Cartagena
Qualifiers - 20 players on 285 or better (-7)
1 Andrea Perrino (It) 67 68 72 70 277 (-15)
1 Allan Versfeld (SA) 66 75 65 71 277

T30 Michael McGeady 75 68 74 71 288 (-4)
T30 Neil O’Briain 69 72 71 76 288 (-4)
T38 Colm Moriarty 75 71 74 70 290 (-2)

Costa Ballena Ocean Club
Qualifiers - 20 players on -8 or better