Phelan and Hurley among 10 Irish set for Second Stage of Q-School
 Alexander Knappe. Picture: Leckie Wong

Alexander Knappe. Picture: Leckie Wong

Kevin Phelan and Gary Hurley finished down the field in the 36-hole Hainan Open in China.

The tournament was reduced to two rounds due to torrential rain but while Phelan was just three shots off the lead after an opening 71, he closed with a 74 to finish 10 shots behind winner Alexander Knappe.

The German claimed his second European Challenge Tour title and his European Tour card with a five under par 67.

Tied for first place with England’s Sam Walker and Holland’s Reinier Saxton overnight, he bounced back well from a bogey on his first hole to eagle the second by holing out from 55 yards.

The 27 year old has twice come close to sealing his second win on the 2016 Road to Oman, narrowly missing out on victories at the Cordon Golf Open and the KPMG Trophy.

But this time the man from Paderborn made no mistake and was over the moon with how he was able to keep his composure and secure a place on the European Tour for next season. 

“It’s a great feeling,” said Knappe, who won the tournament which was reduced to 36 holes after heavy rain caused multiple delays. 

“I was really focused and it was my target this morning to go out there and concentrate on each shot and make it count.

“I really enjoyed it out there today. I only dropped one shot today at the first hole when I was a little bit unsure in the wind, I was in between a six and a seven iron on my second shot, but after that I really played well.

“Late last night when I started my second round I made an eagle where I hit a really good drive, then I was left with 230 yards to the pin. I then hit my second shot really well on to the fringe, before going on to hole a 55-yard putt – which felt really good.

“At the start of the week I felt that my putting was an issue, so I went to practise and before I knew it seven hours had passed by. I spent a lot of time working on my long putting, so it was really satisfying to hole a few long ones during the week.

“I arrived in China a week before anyone else to prepare for this tournament. I went to Foshan to practise to get used to the heat, the adjustment in the climate and the time change.

“I didn’t feel that my game was in good shape before this week. I didn’t have a good result in Kazakhstan, and I am delighted that all of my hard work has paid off.”

Going into the tournament on the Chinese island, Knappe had earned € 94,205 in 16 events and was vying for a European Tour card. After scooping € 37,483 this week, the two-time Challenge Tour champion is certain to be competing on the Race to Dubai next season – and he couldn’t be happier.

“Everybody before this tournament said ‘you already have you card’,” he said. “But I felt that I was just on the edge and I thought anything could happen with these big tournaments now. I felt as though I really needed to play well and have one more top three. To have done that here is fantastic.”

Phelan earned € 898 for his share of 49th while Hurley, who followed a 78 with a 72 to share 81st, did not get paid as there was prize money only for those finishing tied 60th or better.

Just two events remain before the Grand Final but neither Phelan nor Hurley made the field for the Foshan Open from October 20-23.

West Waterford man Hurley is in the field for the penultimate event, the Ras Al Khaimah, 2016 Golf Challenge in the UAE but as he's 77th and Phelan 98th in the Road to Oman standings, the Second Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School at Las Colinas Golf Club in Alicante from November 4-7 in at the forefront of his mind.

The Waterford men will be joined there by Clandeboye's Jonny Caldwell and Mount Juliet's Stephen Grant, who appears likely to give up his chance to play in the clashing Second Stage of the Web.com Tour Q-School as his positive record at Final Stage venue PGA Catalunya Resort (he's played well there in ECCO Tour events) gives him confidence.

Niall Kearney will try to make it to the Final Stage from Campo de Golf El Saler alongside Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge and Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin while Limerick's Tim Rice and Mayo native Declan Loftus will tee it up at Lumine Golf & Beach Club in Tarragona. 

Headfort's Brian Casey and Naas' Jack Hume are scheduled to play at Panoramica Golf and Sport Resort in Castellón.

Hainan Open, Final scores:

135 A Knappe (Ger) 68 67, 

137 P Angles (Esp) 69 68,

138 S Henry (Sco) 71 67,

139 O Stark (Swe) 71 68, A Karlsson (Swe) 70 69,

140 M Kinhult (Swe) 72 68, D Frittelli (RSA) 74 66, A Björk (Swe) 70 70, S Walker (Eng) 68 72,

141 R Kellett (Sco) 72 69, M Delpodio (Ita) 71 70, S Soderberg (Swe) 73 68, D Huizing (Ned) 73 68, Z Xinjun (Chn) 70 71, J Dantorp (Swe) 72 69, M Ovesen (Den) 70 71,

142 Y Hao (Chn) 71 71, T Murray (Eng) 71 71, S Heisele (Ger) 77 65, L Ding-Feng (Chn) 70 72, D Perrier (Fra) 71 71, J Stalter (Fra) 73 69, T Detry (Bel) 73 69, J Lima (Por) 72 70, L Gagli (Ita) 72 70, M Pavon (Fra) 72 70, O Zheng (Chn) 73 69,

143 R Saxton (Ned) 68 75, S Jeppesen (Swe) 73 70, Z Guo-Wu (Chn) 72 71, M Lampert (Ger) 71 72, M Orrin (Eng) 72 71, R Santos (Por) 74 69, C Ding-Gen (Chn) 70 73, L Xue-Wen (Chn) 72 71, C Sordet (Fra) 70 73, J Sarasti (Esp) 75 68, C Ford (Eng) 75 68,

144 M Tullo (Chi) 71 73, M Trappel (Aut) 75 69, J Guerrier (Fra) 72 72, B Stow (Eng) 76 68, H Ze-Yu (Chn) 70 74, Z Hui-Lin (Chn) 75 69, A Saddier (Fra) 74 70, S Forsström (Swe) 74 70, P Maddy (Eng) 73 71, N Geyger (Chi) 73 71,

145 W Besseling (Ned) 74 71, Kevin Phelan (Irl) 71 74, L Hao-Yuan (Chn) 73 72, D Stewart (Sco) 72 73, S Tiley (Eng) 73 72, S Fernandez (Esp) 73 72, G Porteous (Eng) 73 72, S Dong (Chn) 76 69, N Cullen (Aus) 72 73,

146 A Rai (Eng) 75 71, P Howard (Eng) 75 71, D Gaunt (Aus) 74 72, L Gui-Ming (Chn) 75 71, H Wen-Yi (Chn) 79 67, J Da-Xing (Chn) 75 71, M Yiyuan (Chn) 72 74, L Fangyi (Chn) 72 74, F Shiyu (Chn) 73 73, C Blomstrand (Swe) 72 74,

147 J Van Der Vaart (Ned) 75 72, D Law (Sco) 75 72, B Ritthammer (Ger) 75 72, J Smith (Eng) 72 75,

148 H Zeming (Chn) 79 69, W Hongfu (Chn) 76 72, Y Tian (Chn) 75 73,

149 M Nixon (Eng) 79 70, C Hai-Meng (Chn) 75 74, R Fox (Nzl) 75 74, G King (Eng) 75 74, T Lawrence (RSA) 74 75, Z Jin (Chn) 74 75,

150 T Rongjian (Chn) 79 71, X Bowen (Chn) 78 72, Gary Hurley (Irl) 78 72, G Zhaoyang (Chn) 77 73, N Ravano (Ita) 76 74, V Riu (Fra) 76 74,

151 W Zi-Ting (Chn) 79 72, L Yuxin (Chn) 78 73, H Ren (Chn) 76 75, W Yanzhang (Chn) 75 76, S Zi-Han (Chn) 75 76,

152 Z Jia (Chn) 79 73, Y Yi-Nong (Chn) 78 74, S Yan (Chn) 75 77, J Heath (Eng) 74 78,

153 A Pavan (Ita) 80 73, D Van Driel (Ned) 80 73, Z Chang-Lei (Chn) 79 74, L Xin-Yang (Chn) 77 76, H Yu-Ting (Chn) 77 76, A Velasco (Esp) 77 76, X Qin (Chn) 77 76, D Chen Xiao (Chn) 76 77,

154 X Guo-Zhen (Chn) 78 76, Z Zhu (Chn) 78 76, M Armitage (Eng) 75 79,

155 Z Wei-Yu (Chn) 80 75,

156 Z Junbin (Chn) 79 77, L Xiaofei (Chn) 78 78, C Changping (Chn) 78 78, Z Linyun (Chn) 77 79,

157 Z Shang (Chn) 80 77,

158 M Cheng-Yao (Chn) 86 72, S Yi-Cheng (Chn) 81 77,

159 X Cheng (Chn) 81 78,

160 W Kunmin (Chn) 83 77,

161 L Chengxiang (Chn) 79 82,

165 C Haolong (Chn) 84 81,

168 W Chang-Wei (Chn) 85 83,

** Y Yongxuan (Chn) 78 WD, L Jianshan (Chn) 80 WD, Y Jian-Feng (Chn) 80 WD, C Xiao-Ma (Chn) 80 WD, W Xu (Chn) 81 WD, Z Xiongyi (Chn) 87 WD, H Wen-Cheng (Chn) 87 WD.