Crisis? What crisis? No fewer than 41 Irish players have stumped up the €1,600 entry fee to follow their dream and enter the First Qualifying Stage of the European Tour School.

That’s seven fewer than entered the first stage last year but still a significant number considering the odds against eventual success.

Of the 48 that entered from the start last year, only Damian Mooney made it through to the finals at PGA Catalunya, where he was joined by stage two qualifier Niall Kearney and the exempt Simon Thornton and Colm Moriarty. None of the quartet earned cards.

Kearney, Moriarty and Thornton are exempt from the first stage again but there are plenty of others ready to take their first steps on the long road to a European Tour card when the journey begins in Scotland and Austria today.

Ten Irishmen, including former tour regular Gary Murphy and former Walker Cup players Noel Fox and Jonny Caldwell, will tee it up at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire hoping that this will be their year.

Around 1,000 golfers enter the Qualifying School each year with their sights set on finishing in the top 30 and ties who earn cards following the Final Stage at PGA Golf De Catalunya near Girona the week before Christmas.

A player progressing through all three stages will have to play 252 holes under the most intense pressure and many of the Irish entrants know how it feels to go the distance.

Several amateurs have also entered, led by Walker Cup hero Paul Cutler, who will tee it up at Frilford Heath from October 4-7.

Irish entries for First Qualifying Stage 2011

Sep 13-16, Section A - Ebreichsdorf, Austria

No Irish entrants


Sep 13-16, Section A - Dundonald Links, Ayrshire, Scotland (10 Irish)

Jonny Caldwell
Michael Collins
Noel Fox
Iain Hall
Michael Lavelle
Seamus McMonagle
Gary Murphy
Aaron O’Callaghan
Peter O’Keeffe
Daniel Sugrue


Sep 20-23, Section B - Wychwood Park, Crewe, England (6)

Andrew Hogan (am)
Chris Hughes
Matt McAlpine (Am)
Damian Mooney
Ross Oliver (Carrickfergus)
David Rawluk (The Island)


Sep 20-23, Section B - Fleesensee G&CC, Fleesensee, Germany (3)

Cian Curley
Shane Franklin
Stephen Grant


Sep 27-30, Section C - Golf d’Hardelot, Hardelot, France (5)

Cian McNamara
Neil O’Briain
Paul O’Hanlon
Tim Rice
Niall Turner


Sep 27-30, Section C - Circolo Golf Bogogno, Bogogno, Italy (4)

Robbie Cannon (Am) Balbriggan
Richard Kilpatrick
Ruaidhri McGee (Rosapenna)
Gareth Shaw


Oct 4-7, Section D - Ribagolfe, Lisbon, Portugal (6)

Chris Devlin (Hombre GC)
John Kelly (St Margarets)
Brendan McCarroll
Michael McGeady
Thomas O’Flynn (Fota Island)
Fergal Rafferty


Oct 4-7, Section D - Frilford Heath, Abingdon, England (7)

Nick Brennan (Bowood)
Paul Cutler (Am) Portstewart
David Higgins
Mike Kelly
Dara Lernihan
Glen Robinson
Mark Staunton


Second Qualifying Stage Schedule    

Dec 2-5

Costa Ballena Ocean Club, Jerez, Spain
Las Colinas G & CC ,Alicante, Spain
El Valle Golf Resort, Murcia, Spain
South Course, La Manga Club, Cartagena, Spain


Final Qualifying Stage Schedule    

Dec 10-15    

PGA Catalunya Resort, Girona, Spain