McAlpin leads Alps ascent
 Matthew McAlpin in action in the 2012 East of Ireland at Co Louth. Photo Jenny Matthews/ www.golffile.ie

Matthew McAlpin in action in the 2012 East of Ireland at Co Louth. Photo Jenny Matthews/www.golffile.ie

Matt McAlpin led the quintet of Irishmen who will join Alan Dunbar at next week’s final stage of the Alps Tour Qualifying School in Spain.

The Royal Portrush man shot a two under 70 at La Cala’s America Course to finish tied for second in his section of the First Stage Qualifier on five under par.

The top 34 after 36-holes at each first stage venue qualified for the 54-hole second stage that begins on Monday. And McAlpin and the already exempt Dunbar will be joined there by Co Louth’s Simon Ward, Headfort’s Brian Casey, Newlands’ Andy Hogan and France based amateur Thomas O’Driscoll.

Ward tied for fourth on the America course on three under after a 73 with Casey (75) tied 13th on one over and Hogan (76) joint 22nd on three over. America Scores

Ciaran Lavery missed out by six shots after a 79 at the same venue as O’Driscoll came through on the Asia Course, where he finished joint 22nd on six over after a pair of 75s. Asia Scores

Italy’s Nunzio Lombardi topped the qualifiers on the Asia Course on eight under (68-68) while England’s Martin Edge (69-69) was the top qualifier from America, edging out McAlpin and former British Amateur runner-up John Gallagher (he lost to Brian McElhinney in the 2005 final) by a stroke on six under.

The top 65 and ties will make the 36-hole cut at the Final Stage with the leading 35 and ties after 54 holes earning Category 6 Membership on the Alps Tour for 2014.

The players ranked between the 36th and 70th will earn Category 8 membership.