Sunshine Tour Q-School — Royal Dublin amateur Jeff Hopkins fired an eagle and seven birdies in a seven under 65 to soar to tied seventh with a round to play in the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School in South Africa.
The former Skerries man is seeking the chance to play in one of six Sunshine Tour events from January 7, including the European Tour co-sanctioned BMW SA Open and the Joburg Open.
At nine under par, the Leinster interprovincial is eight shots behind Botswana’s Stuart Smith, who shot a 70 at Bloemfontein Golf Club to lead by two shots from England’s Jack Harrison (66) and by three from South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout (66).
While it was a good day for Hopkins, Limerick’s Tim Rice shot a two over 74 on the same course, finishing 4-6-4 (bogey, double bogey, bogey) to slip one stroke outside the top 30 on two under par with Saturday’s fifth and final round to go.
Rice at least made the 72-hole cut for the top 60 and ties but Northern Ireland’s John McClean (75) at three over and Hopkins’ Royal Dublin team mate Shaun Carter (74) at 10 over, both missed the one under par cut.
Hopkins’ 65 was the second best score of the day on the Bloemfontein Course where he started on the back nine and birdied the 11th, 12th and 14th before recovering from back to back bogeys at the 15th and 16th with a birdie at the 17th and an eagle three at the 18th.
Out in 32, he then came home in in three under 33 with birdies at the par-five third and fifth and par-four ninth.
Just 61 players from 272 made the cut in the race for 30 Sunshine Tour cards with Hopkins one of 12 amateurs.
Loftus through to Alps Tour Q-School Finals
Alps Tour Q-School — Declan Loftus added a 75 to his opening 81 to squeak into next week's final stage of Alps Tour Qualifying School at La Cala.
The former Irish Intervarsity champion finished 40th in his Stage 1 qualifier on the Asia Course, where 42 qualified behind Englishmen Reece Philips and Ollie Roberts.
France’s Lambert Cochet won on the Asia course and James Adams on America course where Belgium's Nicholas Makhoul and France’s Mickaël Almeida could not be separated after seven playoff holes for the final spot and must return on Saturday at 9am.