West Waterford’s Gary Hurley fired five birdies in an opening 68 to get his qualifying bid off to a positive start in the 72-hole European Tour Qualifying School Second Stage in Spain.
The Walker Cup hero is one of 267 hopefuls in action at four venues and while the number of qualifying spots available will not be determined until the Challenge Tour’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final finishes today, at least 60 players in total are expected to progress, around 15 at each course.
That’s good news for Hurley, who is tied for 14th on three under par alongside Rathmore’s Alan Dunbar at Lumine Golf and Beach Club in Tarragona, two shots off the lead, with Open Championship hero Paul Dunne from Greystones tied 39th after a one under 70.
Eight of Ireland’s 12-strong contingent broke par and seven of them start round two inside the magic number who will progress to the Final Stage at PGA Catalunya from November 14-19 and battle to finish inside the top 25 and ties.
Walker Cup star Gavin Moynihan shot a four under 68 and shares third spot, two shots behind 48 year old former Ryder Cup player Jarmo Sandelin at El Saler in Valencia where Moyola Park’s Chris Selfridge (70) is joint 17th but Mick McGeady (76) slipped to 61st.
At Panoramica Golf and Sport Resort in Castellón, Headfort’s Brian Casey blasted a seven under 65 to lie solo third, three strokes behind Spanish amateur Scott Fernandez (62).
Amateur international Colm Campbell from Warrenpoint posted six birdies in a super 68 at the same venue to share 13th with Rory McIlroy’s former Walker Cup partner, Jonny Caldwell of Clandeboye.
But Naas’ Jack Hume, who was also a member of the winning Walker Cup side, has work to do at the Castellón venue after a level par 72 left him tied 48th.
At Las Colinas Golf and Country Club in Alicante, Banbridge’s Richard Kilpatrick is tied 42d after a level par 71 with Headfort’s Rory McNamara’s two over 73 leaving him near the back of the field, nine behind fellow EPD Tour regular Philipp Meow of Germany.
On the Asian Tour, Muskerry’s Niall Turner crashed to a 76 and fell from ninth to 44th in the Panasonic Open India in New Delhi where two-time Irish PGA champion Niall Kearney carded a second successive 71 to move up to tied 18th, nine shots behind leader Chiragh Kumar of India.
As for the Challenge Tour’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final in Oman, Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee shot a two under 70 to keep his hopes alive of European Tour promotion on Saturday.
Ranked 27th in the Road to Oman standings, he shares 14th place on four under with one round to go but likely needs a Top-3 finish to make the Top-15 money winners who earn automatic promotion to the European Tour.
McGee is just three shots behind England’s James Robinson and Callum Shinkwin, Dane Joachim B Hansen, Spain’s Nacho Elvira and Swede Jens, who lead by one stroke on seven under par heading into today’s final round.
2015 EUROPEAN TOUR SECOND QUALIFYING STAGE SCHEDULE
- T3 Gavin MOYNIHAN The Island GC 68 (-4)
- T17 Chris SELFRIDGE Moyola Park 70 (-2)
- T61 Michael McGEADY Northwest GC 76 (+4)
- T42 Richard KILPATRICK Banbridge GC 71 (E)
- T56 Rory MCNAMARA La Cala Resort 73 (+2)
- 3rd Brian CASEY Headfort GC 65 (-7)
- T13 Jonathan CALDWELL Clandeboye GC 68 (-4)
- T13 Colm CAMPBELL JNR (AM) Warrenpoint 68 (-4)
- T48 Jack HUME (AM) Naas GC 72 (E)
- T14 Alan DUNBAR Team Ireland 68 (-3)
- T14 Gary HURLEY West Waterford GC 68 (-3)
- T39 Paul DUNNE Hartl Resort, Bad Griesbach 70 (-1)