Stephen Grant started well at the first stage of the European Tour Qualifying School in Germany. Picture by Pat Cashman, courtesy of the Golfing Union of Ireland.Former professional footballer Stephen Grant is the only Irish player inside the qualifying places after the opening rounds of the Section B qualifiers in the First Stage of the European Tour School.

The 34-year-old Birr man shot a two under par 70 at Fleesensee Golf and Country Club to share 15th place at a venue where the top 21 and ties will progress to December’s second stage.

Grant played for Athlone Town, Sunderland, Shamrock Rovers (two stints 154 competitive appearances), Stockport County, Burnley, Finn Harps, Waterford United, Boston Bulldogs, Galway United and Shelbourne.

After playing for Athlone and Sunderland reserves his first taste of senior football came when Pat Byrne signed him for Rovers in October 1996. He became an instant hero by scoring on his debut against fierce rivals Bohemians on the 18th. After 4 goals in 22 total appearances he signed for Stockport for £10,000 in 1997.

He signed back again for Rovers in the summer of 2001 and wrote himself into the history books by becoming the first Irish player to score against a Polish side in European competition when Rovers beat Odra Wodzisław in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in June 2003. In total he made 6 appearances in Europe for Rovers.

He was Rovers top goalscorer in the 2004 season.

He scored 1 goal in 4 appearances for the Republic of Ireland U21.

Shane Franklin and Cian Curley are just a shot outside the qualifying places at the north German venue after rounds of level par 72.

However, none of the six Irish hopefuls are inside the top 25 and ties who qualify at Wychwood Park, near Crewe in Cheshire.

Belfast’s Damian Mooney is the best of the bunch following a level par 72 that left him a shot outside the top 25 and ties in joint 29th. Amateur Matt McAlpin is only a shot further back after his 73.

Chris Hughes and Ross Olive shot four over 76’s but it looks likely to be an uphill battle now for Newlands amateur Andy Hogan and the Island’s David Rawluk, who carded disappointing 78’s that left the tied for 88th.

The Qualifying School began last week at Ebreichsdorf in Austria and at Dundonald Links in Scotland, where Jonathan Caldwell and Darren Wright led the 15 qualifiers and were joined in stage two by Noel Fox and Aaron O’Callaghan.

The First Qualifying Stage continues for the next three weeks, moving from England and Germany this week to France and Italy next and then Portugal and a return to England for the final leg.

The successful qualifiers will progress to the Second Qualifying Stage across four venues in Spain in the first week of December before the Final six-round examination at PGA Catalunya Resort from December 10-15.

First Round Scores from the European Tour Qualifying School

First Qualifying Stage Section B, Fleesensee Golf and Country Club, Germany, par 72.

(The top 21 and ties to progress to the second stage)

66 B Wuttke  (Ger) ,

67 T Dogil (Ger), M Johansson  (Swe) ,

68 A Andersson  (Swe), T Remkes (Ned), C Lange  (Den), C Schwierz  (Ger), F Fihn (Swe), J Glennemo (Swe) ,

69 F Christensen (Swe), P Mejow (Ger), M Eliasson (Swe), T Petersson (Swe), D Lokke (Den) ,

70 M Larsson (Swe), M Salminen (Fin), H Lipsanen (Fin), Stephen Grant  (Irl), J Ruth  (Eng), R Mattila (Fin) ,

71 D Küpper (Ger), S Gross Jr (Ger), A Fischer (Ger), A Knappe (Ger), F McGuirk  (Eng), A McLean (Sco), J Sheffield  (Eng), C Aronsen  (Nor), D Schmieding (am) (USA) ,

72 V Flatau (Swe), Shane Franklin (Irl), A Johansson (Swe), Cian Curley (Irl), J Winther (Den), L Corfield  (Eng), S Piaget  (Mon), D Wuensche  (Ger), A Björk (Swe), O Tubb (Can), B Miarka (Ger), M Novy  (Cze), O Sigurdsson (Isl), L Bjerregaard  (Den), A Kirstein (am) (Ger) ,

73 M Haremza (Ger), M Brenner (Ger), C Pfau (Aut), D Oakey (USA), N Glans (Swe), J Lerchedahl (Den), D Froreich (Ger), J Wahlqvist (Swe), M Suursalu (Est), R Svensson (Swe), R Hie (Ina), C Braunig (am) (Ger), T Sørensen (am) (Den) ,

74 J Ryba (Cze), R Askstrand (Swe), M Kramer  (Ger), C Hurter (Ger), J Magnusson (Swe), M Ervasti (Fin), K Mortensen (Den), S Nilsson (Swe), W Barnes (Eng),

75 J Colomo  (Esp), B Reiter (Aut), S Schmidt (Ger), M Merks (am) (Ger), H Beins (am) (Ger), A Hortal (am) (Esp),

76 I Griffiths (Wal), F Becker (Ger), T Gissurarson (Isl), J Neuendorf (Ger), G Birch Jr (Ger) ,

77 E Bertheussen (Nor), J Lupprian (Ger), J Drongstrup (Den), F Quicker (Swe) ,

78 M Palm (Swe), S Gundorph (Den) ,

79 T Machleid (Ger), S Forsstrom (Swe), W Schauman  (Swe), E Penin (Fra), O Suhr (Den) ,

81 O Lebl (Cze), P Gabsa (am) (Ger) ,

86 D Carrera (Esp),

89 B Sommer (Ger),


First Qualifying Stage Section B, Wychwood Park, England, par 72.

(The top 25 and ties will progress through to the Second Qualifying Stage)

64 B Ahlenback (Swe),

66 S Uzzell (Eng),

67 D Kemmer (USA), P Reed (USA) ,

68 J Dransfield  (Eng),

69 P Kaensche  (Nor), B Martin (Eng), C Kelly (Sco) ,

70 H Leon (Chi), P Richardson (Eng), G Woolgar (Eng), R Gildersleeve (USA), A Versfeld (RSA), S Brown (Eng), G Benson (Eng), K Harper (Eng), M Stewart (am) (Sco), A Cooley (am) (Eng), J Timmis (am) (Eng) ,

71 A Shakespear (Eng), D Palm (Swe), A Laing (Imn), T Mordt  (RSA), D Marmion (Eng), A Georgiou (RSA), S Arnold  (Aus), I Pyman (Eng), J Senior (Eng) ,

72 Damian Mooney (Nir), G Hutcheon (Sco), N James (Wal), A Stott (Eng), M Ureta  (Chi), D Stewart (Sco), A Evans (Eng), J Morgan  (Eng), D Lloyd (RSA), P Doherty (Sco), J Hendry (Sco), S Merry  (Tri), I Ridgway  (Eng), J Howarth (Eng), A Chesters (am) (Eng), R Bentham (am) (Wal) ,

73 D Wardrop  (Eng), C Lutton (Sco), P Grannell (Eng), J White (Eng), R Wallis (Eng), A Palmer (Eng), G Parker (Eng), K Garwood (Eng), J Need (Eng), Matthew McAlpin (am) (Nir), J Bartlett (am) (Eng) ,

74 S Gray (Sco), P Maddy (Eng), C Farrelly (Eng), T Higson (Sco), R Hearty (Eng), L Harper (Sco), C Elliot (Eng), L Ferreira (RSA) ,

75 R Tagg (Eng), A Jones (Eng), N McCarthy  (Eng), J Shepherd  (Eng), Z Scotland  (Eng), R O’Neill (Eng), J McCreadie (Sco), Z Saltman (Sco), S Jackson (Eng), D Coupland (am) (Eng), O Farr (am) (Wal) ,

76 Chris Hughes (Nir), Ross Oliver (Nir), B Briscoe (Wal), R Newman  (Eng), S Henderson (Sco), A Hodkinson (Eng), Y Ali  (Eng), S Griffiths (Eng), B Fowles (Eng) ,

77 N Redfern (Eng), M Swales (Eng), S Tooth (Eng), J Bland (Eng) ,

78 A Seve Ruia (Eng), J Burns (Eng), David Rawluk (Irl), R Leonard (Eng), R Whitelock  (Eng), I Winstanley (Eng), C Durnian (Eng), Andrew Hogan (am) (Irl),

79 M Pearson (Eng), J Mason  (Eng), D James (Eng), M Armitage (Eng), A Runcie (Wal), J McCormick (am) (Eng)

80 J Mumford (Eng), O Smith (Eng), S Maurits (Ned) ,

81 N Els (RSA), M Sparrow (Eng) ,

82 A Vergari (Ita) ,

91 H Macleod (am) (Aus) ,

** B Paterson (am) (Eng) ,