Phelan needs personal best round to keep European Tour card

Phelan needs personal best round to keep European Tour card
 Kevin Phelan on the 12th tee during Saturday's third round. Picture: Thos Caffrey /  www.golffile.ie

Kevin Phelan on the 12th tee during Saturday's third round. Picture: Thos Caffrey / www.golffile.ie

Waterford Castle's Kevin Phelan will have to shoot the lowest round of his European Tour career to keep his tour card in Australia on Sunday.

The former Walker Cup star, whose best round is a six under 65, must finish fourth in the ISPS HANDA Perth International to move into the Top-111 in the Race to Dubai who are exempt following Sunday's final round.

But a level par 72 leaves the rookie tied for 41st with Damien McGrane (73) and eight shots outside fourth place at Lake Karrinyup Country Club meaning he may need to shoot 64 or 63 to avoid a return to Q-School.

Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen shot a five under 67 to that a three storke lead over Korea's Sihwan Kim on 16 under par.

Kim is looking to make it consecutive Korean wins in Perth following Jin Jeong’s triumph 12 months ago, and is playing under the added pressure of fighting to keep his European Tour card.

Only the top 111 players on The Race to Dubai at close of play tomorrow will retain their playing privileges for next season, and at 138th in the current standings the Challenge Tour graduate needs a top-two finish.

The same is true for overnight leader Peter Whiteford, who started the week 149th, but despite birdieing the first hole the Scot could only manage a 75 which left him seven shots back.

James Morrison followed Friday’s course record 63 with a 69 to move into third on 12 under, with America’s Peter Uihlein a shot further back in fourth after a round of 65.

The man in the firing line for those trying to keep their cards, 111th-ranked Matthew Nixon, eased his fears of a return to Qualifying School as a round of 69 took him to six under.

His nearest pursuers to make the cut, 116 David Drysdale and 117 Carlos del Moral, shot rounds of 71 and 69 respectively and lie tied fifth and tied 33rd – both need at least top-16 finishes.