Ireland’s quartet of Walker Cup heroes got their marching orders as they missed the cut in the Volopa Irish Challenge hosted by Mount Wolseley Hotel Spa and Golf Resort.
As Rathmore's Alan Dunbar, Derry’s Michael McGeady and Banbridge’s Richard Kilpatrick headed the home challenge, six shots adrift of England’s Robert Coles and Italy’s Nino Bertasio on four under, rookie professionals Gary Hurley and Gavin Moynihan and amateurs Cormac Sharvin and Jack Hume were heading home.
Hurley followed his disappointing opening 79 by firing five birdies in a 68 to miss the one under par cut by two strokes and confessed that he will have to learn to keep his cool when he’s tired and struggling with his game.
“I was just so mentally exhausted yesterday, I started to get angry at a lot of shots where I wouldn’t normally,” Hurley said.
“Today I was playing well and could easily have shot eight or nine under. But I got tired towards the end again and missed a couple of short putts.
“So I have to work on that and learning how to stay fresh for events.”
Barring a late invitation for the Portugal Masters, Hurley’s next event will be next month’s Second Stage of the Qualifying School in Spain.
He’ll be joined there by Hume and Moynihan, who also learned that making the cut on the Challenge Tour is far from a breeze.
While English Walker Cup team mate Jimmy Mullen made it on four under after a 72, Hume struggled with his irons missed out by three shots on two over after adding a 74 to his 72.
Hume said: "I drove the ball quite well but I my iron play wasn’t very good and I didn’t putt very well. It was difficult to make birdies so it’s disappointing. At the same time, my game is not far off. I’m just looking forward now to going to stage two of Q-School next month."
Amateur Sharvin was struck down by tummy trouble on Thursday before bouncing back from his 75 with a 70 yesterday to miss the cut by two shots on one-over.
"The standard is very achievable," Sharvin said as he prepared to head back to Stirling University to complete his final year. "I hit a lot of nice shots and a lot of clumsy ones too. And I was a bit all over the place with my head yesterday. Back to the books."
Moynihan, who was a shot inside the cut mark with four holes to play, left Mount Wolseley fuming as poor tee shots led to bogeys at the 15th, 17th and 18th for a 76 to miss out by two.
Dunbar added a 71 to his 69 as McGeady changed his putting grip from cack-handed to conventional in mid-round to post a 71 as Kilpatrick dropped four shots in his last five holes for a 73 to leave them tied for 17th on four under.
Overnight leader Coles battled to a 69 to set the target at 10 under and he was joined at the top late in the day by 27-year old Bertasio, who holed an 80-yard sand wedge for an eagle two at the fourth and made seven other birdies in a six under 66.
They are two shots clear of England’s Tom Murray while Chris Selfridge (71) battled neck problems to lie tied 30th with Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee (71) and Royal County Down’s Simon Thornton (72) on three under.
McGeady said: "I didn’t play well today at all. I hit a ball out of bounds and bogeyed seven and missed a tiny putt on No 9 to shoot two over. But I came back in three under which was nice.
"I am thereabouts and I'll go out and attack at the weekend. I made a wee adjustment in my putting and felt a better — like I could have a go at putts.
"Yesterday I was just lagging everything up. Sp I changed my grip - went from cack-handed to conventional, which I'd changed only three weeks ago, so it was still new to me. So I went back to what I had been doing before and it felt a lot better. My pace putting was better and it felt much more natural."
Kilpatrick was in touch with the leader until the finish, when he bogeyed the 14th and 16th and double bogeyed the 17th to fall to tied 17th with McGeady.
Selfridge and McGee are both three under without doing anything spectacular.
"It was a bad one under," McGee said after this 71. "I didn't really hole anything. Trying to hole them is the problem. It can get a bit frustratting, Hopefully the putter starts working and I keep doing everything else I am doing."
Selfridge almost pulled out with a bad neck on the front nine but carried on after treatment.
"It was a real struggle," he said. "I woke up with it and I couldn't hit it more than chip it 240 yards, even with pain killers. It was hard to turn until the treatment and the tablets kicked in so one under was a great score today."
It was Selfridge's 11th successive cut made but he's only interested in a win and needs a good week here or in China to make the Top 45 who play the season ending Grand Final and avoid the Second Stage of Q-School
"I don;t care about the 11 cuts in a row," he said. "I’d swap them all for one win. It’s close. It’s a matter of putting four rounds together. Hopefully I will be in China (1st reserve) and Grand Final and I won't be the going to Second Stage of Q-School."
Jonny Caldwell (70) is tied 39th on two under while Headfort’s Rory McNamara squeaked in for the weekend after a 74.
Playing alongside Moynihan, Dermot McElroy missed the cut by four shots after 75 that featured a four putt double on the 13th and a bogey on the 14th.
Moynihan was cruising until the last four holes when a series of poor drives led to a rash of bogeys.
At the 15th, he put his attempted draw in a bush and missed a five footer for par after a good recovery but then bogeyed the 17th off another tee shot that wandered left, bunkering his second.
At the 18th he found a bad lie in the rough, knocked his second up short of the green but missed a tricky putt from around five feet for par and missed the cut by two alongside Sharvin, who carded a two under 70.
Maynooth University's Robin Dawson ended up last on 16 over after rounds of 82 and 78 but took it in his stride.
"It didn’t go to well. I wasn’t feeling 100 percent yesterday but I was better when I got going. And I am fighting the lefts at the moment but I really really enjoyed the two days... It can only get better from here, can’t it."
Bertasio, a 27 year old from Brescia called his eagle two the “perfect shot” as he spun the ball back into the cup with a sand wedge after a wayward drive on the short dogleg par four, and it spurred him on to the joint best round of the day which also included six birdies and two bogeys.
The Swiss-born player joined the first round leader Robert Coles at the top on ten under par after the Englishman added a three under 69 to his seven under par opening gambit at the sun-kissed Carlow venue.
Bertasio is in need of a big result in order to at least secure his Challenge Tour status for next year and he was delighted to move into contention.
“It was a really nice round, I’m very pleased with it,” said Bertasio. “I got here on Monday and put in some intense practice in the afternoon after playing some terrible golf last week in Italy, and it paid off.
“I hit the ball pretty good on the first day and today I started only OK, but then I holed my second shot on four which settled me down.
“I didn’t hit a great tee shot and hit it into the right bunker. The pin was long and left which was a pretty tough pin, but I just pulled off a perfect shot. It pitched three or four yards long and spun back into the hole.
“I played great on the back nine then, just like I did yesterday, hitting fairways and greens and I made a couple of putts.
“I love Ireland, I enjoyed the Northern Ireland Open earlier in the season and the people here are great. They love golf and that’s very nice for us players.
“Yesterday a class of kids asked where I’m from and when I said Italy, they just went crazy and followed me for a couple of holes, shouting ‘Italy, Italy, Italy’, so it was great. This tournament is great, the hotel is fantastic and everything is pretty much top notch. I’m looking forward to the weekend now.”
Coles, whose last victory coincidentally came on Irish soil on the last visit of Europe’s top developmental tour to these shores, was delighted to maintain his momentum courtesy of a flawless round and the three-time Challenge Tour winner heads into the weekend in confident form having picked up two shots on the way home.
“It was quite a bit different today to be honest,” said Coles. “I struggled off the tee, didn’t hit it so well and didn’t putt quite so well either but I got a couple in the end and obviously managed to keep the bogeys away, which made it look a bit better than it felt.
“It’s nice to get a couple of birdies coming in. I made a nice putt on 14 and then scrambled a bit on 15 and birdied 16, and they’re both strong holes so that was good.
“There are only two tournaments after this so any event now is big for all of us, no matter where you are in the Rankings. We’re all trying to get to a certain level and at the moment I’m a long way off the top 15, you can only do one thing at a time though really.”
Coles’ compatriot Tom Murray was two shots further back on eight under par, following a five under 67, as he added further weight to the phrase “Beware the injured golfer”, having struggled with an injury in the lead-up to the tournament.
American Daniel Im holds fourth place on his own on seven under par after a two under second round 70, as he targets a second Challenge Tour victory of the season.
Volopa Irish Challenge hosted by Mount Wolseley Hotel Spa and Golf Resort (Par 72)
134 N Bertasio (Ita) 68 66, R Coles (Eng) 65 69,
136 T Murray (Eng) 69 67,
137 D Im (USA) 67 70,
138 B Stone (RSA) 72 66, P Whiteford (Sco) 70 68, D Huizing (Ned) 72 66, S Wakefield (Eng) 69 69, P Archer (Eng) 69 69,
139 G Porteous (Eng) 70 69, C Sordet (Fra) 72 67, J Hansen (Den) 70 69, J Stalter (Fra) 70 69, S Tiley (Eng) 69 70, A Ahokas (Fin) 70 69, C Gloet (Den) 73 66,
140 J Dantorp (Swe) 69 71, M Schneider (Ger) 68 72, A Dunbar (Nir) 69 71, R Kilpatrick (Nir) 67 73, C Ford (Eng) 71 69, M Orrin (Eng) 70 70, M McGeady (Irl) 69 71, J Hahn (USA) 71 69, J Mullen (Eng) 68 72, R Evans (Eng) 68 72, G Boyd (Eng) 71 69, S Walker (Eng) 69 71, R Langasque (am) (Fra) 67 73,
141 A McArthur (Sco) 71 70, S Thornton (Irl) 69 72, M Søgaard (Den) 70 71, S Soderberg (Swe) 72 69, R McGee (Irl) 70 71, T Linard (Fra) 68 73, S Griffiths (Eng) 70 71, C Selfridge (Nir) 70 71, L Gagli (Ita) 69 72,
142 T Sluiter (Ned) 71 71, B Virto Astudillo (Esp) 74 68, D Law (Sco) 68 74, J Winther (Den) 71 71, M Southgate (Eng) 68 74, A Bernadet (Fra) 71 71, S Brown (Eng) 72 70, J Caldwell (Nir) 72 70, V Riu (Fra) 69 73, S Fallon (Eng) 75 67, S Jeppesen (Swe) 72 70, M Keyser (RSA) 70 72, J Sjöholm (Swe) 68 74, F Andersson Hed (Swe) 73 69,
143 G Murray (Sco) 71 72, H Joannes (Bel) 73 70, J Fahrbring (Swe) 71 72, R McNamara (Irl) 69 74, M Lafeber (Ned) 72 71, H Porteous (RSA) 70 73, D Stewart (Sco) 69 74, J Huldahl (Den) 72 71, S Manley (Wal) 67 76, A Gee (Eng) 68 75, N Geyger (Chi) 70 73,
144 E Cuartero Blanco (Esp) 73 71, P Relecom (Bel) 71 73, J McLeary (Sco) 73 71, A Björk (Swe) 72 72, J Guerrier (Fra) 70 74, J Lima (Por) 75 69, P Maddy (Eng) 78 66, J Gonnet (Fra) 72 72, D Coupland (Eng) 72 72, N Quintarelli (Ita) 72 72,
145 R Davies (Wal) 72 73, A Saddier (Fra) 69 76, J Rask (Swe) 73 72, A Marshall (Eng) 71 74, S Heisele (Ger) 69 76, R McGowan (Eng) 77 68, R Santos (Por) 71 74, G Moynihan (Irl) 69 76, P Widegren (Swe) 68 77, S Arnold (Aus) 71 74, C Hanson (Eng) 70 75, J Heath (Eng) 70 75, S Henry (Sco) 71 74, C Sharvin (am) (Nir) 75 70,
146 F Calmels (Fra) 72 74, J Doherty (Sco) 73 73, L Tintera (Cze) 74 72, G Shaw (Nir) 74 72, N Ravano (Ita) 75 71, J Hume (am) (Irl) 72 74,
147 G Hurley (Irl) 79 68, C Shinkwin (Eng) 73 74, D Foos (Ger) 73 74, J Robinson (Eng) 73 74, C Aguilar (Esp) 73 74, R O'Donovan (Irl) 71 76, A Korinek (Cze) 73 74, D McElroy (am) (Nir) 72 75,
148 J Glennemo (Swe) 76 72, P Dwyer (Eng) 72 76,
149 B Casey (Irl) 71 78, J Walters (RSA) 78 71, T Rice (Irl) 75 74, M Delpodio (Ita) 71 78,
150 T Higgins Jnr (Irl) 76 74, A Hartø (Den) 76 74, J Makitalo (Fin) 76 74, E Dubois (Fra) 81 69, B Ritthammer (Ger) 75 75, B Åkesson (Swe) 71 79,
152 D Burmester (RSA) 78 74, W Harrold (Eng) 76 76,
153 J Senior (Eng) 77 76, S Einhaus (Ger) 76 77,
155 D Sugrue (Irl) 75 80,
157 R Whitson (Nir) 82 75,
160 R Dawson (am) (Irl) 82 78.