Lawrie, Maybin and Thornton lose Tour cards — Phelan hanging tough
 Kevin Phelan is still in with a chance of keeping is European Tour card in Australia. Picture: Thos Caffrey /  www.golffile.ie

Kevin Phelan is still in with a chance of keeping is European Tour card in Australia. Picture: Thos Caffrey / www.golffile.ie

Kevin Phelan lived to fight another two days (at least) but Peter Lawrie and Gareth Maybin missed the cut in the ISPS Perth International and must now go through the agony of a visit to the Final Stage of the Qualifying School to regain their European Tour cards.

With Simon Thornton opting not to contest the last two events of the season in Hong Kong and Australia and with his exemption for winning last year also up at the end of the season, all three will be at PGA Catalunya Resort from November 15-20.

Whether Phelan has to return to the scene of his card-winning exploits 12 months ago remains to be seen. Set to turn 24 in a fortnight, the Waterford man birdied two of his last three holes for at Lake Karrinyup brave 69 that keeps his hopes alive.

Just. He's tied for 35th on three under and six strokes outside the top four finish he needs as a minimum to avoid a return to Girona next month.

“I played quite well,” Phelan  told European Tour Radio's Nick Dye after his 69. “I haven’t capitalised on all the opportunities I’ve had. But I’ve had plenty of birdies chances so I’ll just try to keep it up and hopefully hole a few more putts at the weekend.”

Another seven Irish players could make it through Stage Two, which runs at four venues in Spain in a fortnight’s time (November 7-10). 

Niall Turner goes at Las Colinas Golf & Country Club; Mick McGeady at El Saler; Brendan McCarroll, Mark Murphy and Niall Kearney at Lumine Golf & Beach Club; and Ruaidhri McGee at Panoramica in Castellon.

Gareth Shaw opted to skip First Qualifying Stage in the hope that he’d be inside the top 90 in the Challenge Tour rankings who are exempt into Second Qualifying Stage at the end of the season.

However, he missed the first Top 90 deadline  (Aug 27) four spots and is now 92nd entering what could be his last event of the season in Oman next week, needing a good finish to make it to Second Stage.

 Peter Lawrie must return to the Q-School Final Stage for the first time since 1999. Picture: Thos Caffrey /  www.golffile.ie

Peter Lawrie must return to the Q-School Final Stage for the first time since 1999. Picture: Thos Caffrey / www.golffile.ie

As for the ISPS Handa Perth International, former Rookie of the Year Lawrie needed to win to save his card but shot a 77 to miss the cut by nine shots and will now return to the Final Stage for the first time since 1999.

The Dubliner, 40, has never come through Q-School and won his card by finishing fourth in the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2002.

Maybin, who needed a top eight finish, will also be making his first appearance at the Final Stage having qualified for the European Tour through the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2008.

The Ballyclare man added a one over 73 to his opening 71 in Perth to miss the cut by a stroke.

Thornton’s exemption for winning the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open presented by Neuflize OBC last year runs out on Sunday, and having failed to enter the last two events of the season having missed the cut at the Alfred Dunhill Links and the Portugal Masters, he’ll be back at the Final Stage for the fifth time since 2008.

The 37-year old earned his European Tour card for 2010 through the 2009 Qualifying School, but could not retain it, finishing 141st in The Race to Dubai. 

He played a mixture of European Tour and Challenge Tour in 2011, and rose into the top 20 of the Challenge Tour Rankings with a tie for third place at the lucrative Kazakhstan Open, clinching 12th spot and promotion with a  runner-up finish at the Allianz Golf Open Grand Toulouse and a share of sixth at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final.

He lost his card again in 2012 and faced another season on the Challenge Tour, but won the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open presented by Neuflize OBC in June last year to regain full playing rights on The European Tour until the end of this season.

Damien McGrane, who was 94th in the Race to Dubai starting the week and guaranteed his card for a 12 consecutive season, goes into the final round in Australia tied for 18th, eight shots behind leader Peter Whiteford of Scotland (66).

Whiteford must finish second to make the Top-111 who keep their cards but while that’s still a big ask, it’s an even bigger challenge for Phelan to make the top-four.

And yet after finishing third in Hong Kong last week when he was 25th at halfway, it’s not impossible for the talented Waterford Castle rookie.

The former Walker Cup star was hovering on the cut line with three holes to play but birdied his 16th and 17th to make it with shots to spare.

“I needed a good finish. There are a few tough holes coming in there — six, eight, nine — I knew i needed to focus on having a good score. 

“The lads are a good bit ahead but there are a good few birdie chances and a lot of tough holes as well — a great mixture of holes. So there are birdie chances and if you can get it going, as the lads have shown, there are good scores out there so hopefully I can go out and get one.

“I’ll go out and give it a go tomorrow and try and make as many birdies as I can. One shot at a time. That’s what works best for me and the only thing that works. So I’ll try to stick to that.”