Former European Tour professional John McHenry is three shots outside the magic number after the first round of the European Senior Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage in Portugal.
The top six after four rounds will earn full membership for the 2014 season, while those placed seventh to 14th earn conditional cards.
McHenry, who turns 50 on March 14, opened with a one over par 72 to lie joint 20th at Pestana Golf Resort’s Pinta Course while Castlemartyr amateur John O'Brien is tied 50th after a disappointing 76.
The top six are on two under or better with American amateur Stephen Mondshine and former French footballer Jean Pierre Sallat leading after three under 68s.
Sallat, who played for Bordeaux and Le Havre, is making his seventh appearance at the Q-School whole Mondshine is a debutant aiming to follow in the footsteps of his fellow Texan Tim Thelen.
“This is the first time I have ever been in Europe," said Monshine, who turns 50 in July. "Years ago I played some mini-tour golf in Texas and I've been practicing and playing with good players recently and just got better so I just decided I would give it a shot.
“I played with Tim (Thelen) a few times in Texas and he’s a really good player. I’ve been a pretty good golfer all my life and I tend to play well in tournaments, so I thought I’d see how it all stacked up.“
Sallet, meanwhile, carded six birdies on the way to his three under 68 over the pristine Pinta Course in the Algarve region as he hopes to emulate his success of 2004, when he finished tied fourth at Final Stage to earn a maiden season on the Senior Tour.
There were four players tied for third place on two under par, including former European Tour winner Andrew Murray, who had the advantage of having his son and Challenge Tour player Tom on the bag.
“I'm really pleased with how I'm playing and a bit disappointed to shoot 69,” said the Englishman, who won the Panasonic European Open in 1989. “I feel like I've left two or three out there to be honest.
“Tom is fantastic on the bag. We didn’t get one read wrong or one club wrong. He’s great to have around. The only problem is that he sometimes thinks it’s a wedge in and I think it’s an eight iron!”
Alongside Murray were Australia’s Glenn Joyner, Englishman Gary Marks and Paul Mayo of Wales.
68 J Sallat (Fra), S Mondshine (am) (USA),
69 G Marks (Eng), G Joyner (Aus), P Mayo (Wal), A Murray (Eng),
70 M Wharton (Eng), K Smith (Can), S Cipa (Eng), P Martinez (Par), M Belsham (Eng), B Conser (USA),
71 R Tlhabanyane (RSA), G Bell (Eng), D James (Sco), R Arnott (Sco), M Bianco (Ita), G Banister (Aus), J Gould (Eng),
72 R Sabarros (Fra), G Norquist (USA), M Stokes (Eng), R Roper (Eng), J Ryström (Swe), J Smith (USA), J McHenry (Irl),
73 K Tarling (Can), T Elliott (Aus), J Hall (Eng), J Murphy (Eng), J Lindberg (Swe), G Ryall (Eng), P Burke (USA),
74 K Hutton (Sco), J Lovell (Eng), J Laforce (Can), T Dodds (Nam), A Mackenzie (Sco), D Morito (Esp), T Lawrence (Eng), A Fernandez (Chi), W Grant (Eng),
75 J Saxton (USA), E Kocs (USA), S Bennett (Eng), D Wettlaufer (Can), T Burgoyne (Sco), B Lincoln (RSA), R Masters (Eng),
76 C Milne (USA), G Rusnak (USA), Y Nilsson (Swe), R Thompson (USA), P Carman (Eng), J Buendia (Esp), G Ralph (Eng), J Harrison (Eng), P Gresswell (Eng), K Tenmark (Swe), S McNally (Eng), A George (Eng), J O'Brien (am) (Irl),
77 T Giles (Eng), J Nougues (Arg),
78 D Ray (Eng), S McAllister (Sco), B James (USA),
79 B White (Eng), M Deboub (Alg),
80 C Grenier (Aut),
82 A Israelsson (Swe), L Warder (am) (Aus),
85 G Litschka (Aut),
87 M Buchter (Sui).