David Higgins comfortably made it to the Second Stage of the Qualifying SchoolDavid Higgins knows that you have no business going to Q-School if you cannot cruise through Stage One and the old dog proved to be the man for the hard road when he headed the six Irish contenders to survive the Section B qualifiers in England and Germany this week.

The Waterville man closed with a 72 to finish tied for second at Wychwood Park in Cheshire [Scores], where Barrie Trainor, Cian Curley, Jonny Calwell and British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar were among the 23 qualifiers there as Dubliner Niall Kearney hit a 69 to qualify comfortably at Fleesensee in Germany [Scores].

Amateur Dunbar made it in joint 20th with a shot to spare on five over par, though he finished in a proverbial ambulance, dropping six strokes in his last seven holes for a final round 77.

Higgins’ 72 left him joint second on two under and just two strokes behind top qualifier Alexander Bjork of Sweden as the ever improving Trainor also shot 72 to share fourth place on one under.

Newlands man Curley (73) and Clandeboye’s Caldwell (75) shared 11th on two over with England’s Iain Pyman taking the last of the 23 spots on six over.

The unlucky Irishman was Bushfoot’s David Jones, who missed out by a shot on seven over after a 77 featuring five bogeys and no birdies.

In Germany, [Scores] Kearney played his way into the top 24 and ties by moving up seven places to tied 19th thanks to a five-birdie 69.

He made it with a stroke to spare as 25 players made it to November’s Second Stage on four under or better.

But there was no fairytale ending to a nightmare two month spell for Birr’s Stephen Grant, the former professional footballer attempting to make it onto the tour at the age of 35.

A painful back injury crucially cost him six weeks of the season just before the Q-School and with his game in less than ideal shape, the former Shamrock Rovers man finished seven shots outside the qualifiers on three over after a closing 73.

He needed a final round 67 to make it and looked on course when he started on the back nine and promplty eagled the 12th and birdied the 16th and 17th to get to four under.

But a bogey at the 18th started the rot and he came home in 40, explaining on Twitter: “Started on 10th today knew I need to shoot 5/6under to quailify. I got it to 4 under through 8 holes then I started to push too hard & blew it.”

He added: “Work my f—king arse off all year for Q school then get injured, 6 weeks no golf made me half the player. I am totally devastated.”

Q-School in a nutshell. So far none of the 18 Irish entrants to Stage One have qualified for November’s Second Stage in Spain:

September 11-14

First Qualifying Stage Section A

The Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course, Kelso, Scotland

  1. Damian MOONEY Ballyliffin GC FAILED TO QUALIFY
  3. Peter O’KEEFFE Muskerry GC QUALIFIED
  4. Mark STAUNTON Ballinasloe GC QUALIFIED

September 18-21

First Qualifying Stage Section B

Wychwood Park, Crewe, England

  1. Nick BRENNAN Bowood
  2. Jonathan CALDWELL Clandeboye GC QUALIFIED
  3. Cian CURLEY Team Ireland QUALIFIED
  4. Paul CUTLER Portstewart
  5. Alan DUNBAR (AM) Rathmore GC QUALIFIED
  6. Graeme DUNLEA Adare Manor H&GR
  7. Donal GLEESON Old Conna Golf Club
  8. David HIGGINS Waterville Golf Links QUALIFIED
  9. David P JONES Bushfoot GC
  10. Matt MCALPINE (AM) Royal Portrush
  11. Barrie TRAINOR Mayobridge GC QUALIFIED

September 18-21

First Qualifying Stage Section B

Golf & Country Club Fleesensee, Göhren-Lebbin, Germany

  1. Shane FRANKLIN Ireland
  2. Stephen GRANT The Heritage
  3. Niall KEARNEY Royal Dublin QUALIFIED

September 25-28

First Qualifying Stage Section C

Golf d’Hardelot, Hardelot, France

  1. Michael COLLINS Mallow Golf Range
  2. Cian MCNAMARA Limerick GC
  3. Neil O’BRIAIN Royal Dublin GC
  4. Tim RICE Limerick GC

October 2-5

First Qualifying Stage Section D

Ribagolfe, Lisbon, Portugal

  1. Alan GLYNN Red Golf Management
  2. Andrew HOGAN (AM) Newlands GC
  3. Richard KILPATRICK Banbridge GC
  4. Dara LERNIHAN Team Ireland Golf
  5. Michael McGEADY McCambridge Duffy
  6. Colm MORIARTY Glasson Golf Hotel & CC
  7. Glen ROBINSON St Helens Bay GC

October 2-5

First Qualifying Stage Section D

Frilford Heath GC, Frilford, England

  1. Brian CASEY (AM) Headfort GC
  2. Chris DEVLIN Team Ireland
  3. John-Daniel GUINEY    Ballybunion GC
  4. Mike KELLY
  5. Ruaidhri MCGEE Golf 525 Murcia
  6. David RAWLUK The Island GC