Hurley and Hoey produce last gasp heroics to keep Q-School dreams alive
 After four days, Michael Hoey and Gary Hurley remain in the hunt at the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort.

After four days, Michael Hoey and Gary Hurley remain in the hunt at the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort.

Gary Hurley confessed he felt pure “relief” as he nervously stroked home a two and a half foot tiddler for a birdie at the last for a five under 65 to make cut on the mark and keep his European Tour card dream alive at PGA Catalunya Resort.

But for sheer guts and dramatic effect, the 23-year old West Waterford man had to take a back seat to five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey less than 30 minutes later on the other finishing hole on the even tougher Stadium Course.

Facing a slippery, left to right snaking 12 footer to make the top 70 and ties will play two more gruelling rounds, the 37-year old slotted one of just nine birdies made on the 18th for a one under 71 to join Hurley on the magic number.

With the top 25 and ties who will earn tour cards after six rounds only four shots ahead of them, both men now have a realistic chance of leaving Girona with a golden ticket to play the 2016-17 European Tour schedule.

For Hoey, who had missed 20 of 27 cuts this year, it was little wonder that he allowed himself a mini first pump of joy as his putt disappeared.

“Did you see my first pump on the last?” said the Shandon Park man, who birdied the 15th to get back to level for the round, then hit a three quarter eight-iron over the stick at the 458-yard finishing hole and expertly converted.

“I haven’t birdied the last to make the cut this year! Hopefully my fortunes are changing.

“I chipped into the water yesterday. Today is one of the first rounds this year I have had a bit of clarity, even though I didn’t hole any putts apart from that one.

“And with the cards only four under, I have a chance now. I would have been disappointed to be heading home tonight.”

Two Irishmen were heading home in disappointment. 

Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee made a quintuple bogey nine on the water-protected 15th, his sixth of the day, in a two over 72 to miss the cut by six shots.

Mount Juliet’s Kevin Phelan never got going all week and missed out by seven strokes after a level par 70 alongside the impressive Hurley.

He didn’t play is A game, but West Waterford's Hurley still took advantage of his breaks and made an eagle, four birdies and one bogey in a 65 that ranks “up there” amongst his best rounds in terms of performing under pressure. 

Five shots outside the mark starting the day, the 2015 Walker Cup winner birdied the second after an eight iron to 20 feet, then hit a gap wedge to 10 feet and birdied the third.

He bogeyed the fourth, missing from 10 feet for par, butbirdie the sixth from 10 feet to turn in two under.

Needing at least a three under 32 on the back nine to make the cut, he reduced the par-five 10th to a drive, a 161-yard eight iron and four foot putt for eagle, then got a lucky ricochet off a tree and a cart path to stay out of trouble at the 13th, where Phelan would end up taking a costly six after his tee shot sailed into a tough lie.

Hurley was striking the ball well and while he had putts for birdie on every hole from the 11th, he missed them all and left himself needing a two putt birdie from 25 feet at the par-five 18th to make the cut.

“I knew I need to make birdie at least,” said a relieved Hurley. “I didn’t hit that many really good shots. I just hit plain shots and my putter holed a few nice ones, even though I felt really uncomfortable over the short ones.  I am delighted to make the cut."

Asked if his objective was to make the cut, he said no.

“The primary goal coming here was to finish in the top 25," Hurley said. "And I’ve given myself a chance now if I can get back to how I normally play golf for the next two days. Hopefully I will be in there with a shout on the back nine on…Thursday?”

Struggling all week to start his putts on line, Hurley thought his eagle effort on the last was in, then left himself a knee-knocker for survival.

“I was just trying to start it on line,” said Hurley, whose South African caddie Joseph collected some wagers such was his confidence in the Munster man making the cut.  

"I know it was only two feet but the greens are quite bobbly with a lot of footprints and grain and I’ve been struggling big time this week and last week to start the ball along my intended line. Last week I putted awful.

"Some puts today I hit well and they didn’t go in. Others I didn’t hit well and they snuck in. Others just didn’t go in. I was just happy to see it go in the hole.

"The first putt for eagle was brilliant. I couldn’t believe it missed. When it was 10 feet out I thought, it’s going to drop in the front door and it trickled two and a half feet past and I was like.. 'Oh no.' 

"I am relieved to make the cut and I get to play two more rounds and get to experience the six rounds. 

"I will just go out and try to play as know I am good enough but I am not striking it well enough at the moment. Today I got it around. If I can just get it around, even though I am not completely on, and I find something a little bit in my putting, I am sure I can threaten. If I play to what I know I can play to, I am sure I will make it."

On his round, he added: "I thought I needed to shoot six under and I missed a few putt down the stretch."

Having pulled a good chance at the 15th, he was frustrated to miss a five footer for a two at the 16th.

"If you hit a good putt, it tends to say on line. If you hit a bad one, it tends to exaggerate it a lot more."

Having spotted an error in his technique earlier in the week, he's finding it hard to trust his set up but knows he must trust himself now and hope for a few hot steaks.

At the top of the leaderboard, England’s Nathan Kimsey finished birdie-birdie-eagle for a nine under 61 on the Tour Course and a three-stroke lead on 12 under par from compatriots Richard McEvoy and Robert Coles, Dane Jeff Winther and former Ryder Cup winner Edoardo Molinari of Italy.

European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage, PGA Catalunya Resort, Girona, Spain (Stadium Course Par 72; Tour Course, Par 70)

272 N Kimsey (Eng) 70 70 71 61;

275 R McEvoy (Eng) 63 69 71 72; R Coles (Eng) 64 68 71 72; J Winther (Den) 68 68 68 71; E Molinari (Ita) 66 68 72 69;

276 N Johansson (Swe) 70 67 70 69; R McGowan (Eng) 68 66 70 72;

277 T Lewis (Eng) 73 65 71 68; S Manley (Wal) 72 63 73 69; 

278 M Orrin (Eng) 67 68 76 67; D Van Driel (Ned) 66 69 70 73; Y Yang (Kor) 72 70 67 69; C Ford (Eng) 76 63 70 69; E Pepperell (Eng) 69 69 69 71; 

279 D Fox (Aus) 72 66 71 70; A Karlsson (Swe) 71 69 71 68; T Chuayprakong (Tha) 64 74 67 74; M Nixon (Eng) 67 73 71 68; S Heisele (Ger) 68 66 72 73;

280 E Van Rooyen (RSA) 71 67 68 74; J Rutherford (Eng) 72 72 70 66; J Fahrbring (Swe) 68 68 72 72; A Connelly (USA) 71 67 73 69; E Kofstad (Nor) 67 68 74 71; J Heath (Eng) 70 71 74 65; J Ahlers (RSA) 70 71 72 67; S Tiley (Eng) 64 71 74 71; M Lundberg (Swe) 71 70 72 67; Z Lombard (RSA) 67 67 74 72; C Braeunig (Ger) 66 67 73 74; A Chesters (Eng) 68 66 73 73;

281 A Rai (Eng) 66 67 74 74; O Wilson (Eng) 68 70 71 72; P Maddy (Eng) 75 67 72 67; J Suri (USA) 64 70 74 73; S Soderberg (Swe) 72 71 73 65; L Canter (Eng) 69 66 73 73; K Horne (RSA) 68 72 69 72; S Henry (Sco) 64 75 70 72; J Guerrier (Fra) 69 70 68 74; R Echenique (Arg) 69 69 72 71; R Gangjee (Ind) 68 69 73 71; D Law (Sco) 66 71 68 76; S Khan (Eng) 72 67 69 73;

282 D Burmester (RSA) 73 68 73 68; J Parry (Eng) 71 67 69 75; G King (Eng) 73 66 74 69; G Porteous (Eng) 73 66 73 70; R Johnson (Swe) 72 67 72 71; R McCarthy (Aus) 74 64 74 70; J Allan (Eng) 67 70 72 73;

283 B Eccles (Aus) 67 68 74 74; R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 67 72 73 71; E Di Nitto (Ita) 70 69 71 73; M Lafeber (Ned) 65 71 72 75; P Widegren (Swe) 72 71 74 66; J Blaauw (RSA) 71 67 73 72; R Gonzalez (Arg) 67 73 72 71; E Dubois (Fra) 71 65 74 73; B Etchart (Esp) 66 72 73 72; R Kellett (Sco) 72 66 73 72;

284 Michael Hoey (Nir) 70 67 76 71; S Webster (Eng) 64 74 74 72; B Stow (Eng) 69 70 73 72; O Lengden (Swe) 73 65 68 78; R Dinwiddie (Eng) 72 69 73 70; B Neil (Sco) 64 72 71 77; M Delpodio (Ita) 73 68 76 67; M Ford (Eng) 72 68 72 72; A Maestroni (Ita) 68 74 73 69; M Foster (Eng) 67 71 74 72; Gary Hurley (Irl) 74 69 76 65;

Non-qualifiers

285 M Tullo (Chi) 72 69 77 67; C Sordet (Fra) 67 72 70 76; L De Jager (RSA) 72 70 74 69; M Godoy (Arg) 65 74 69 77; O Stark (Swe) 69 74 73 69; S Forsström (Swe) 72 67 72 74; M Jonzon (Swe) 63 73 74 75;

286 D Vancsik (Arg) 70 75 73 68; C Griffiths (Eng) 68 68 76 74; C Lee (Sco) 72 74 72 68; G Axell (Swe) 76 68 75 67; T Linard (Fra) 73 67 75 71;

287 R Santos (Por) 73 68 73 73; P Oriol (Esp) 72 72 76 67; J Girrbach (Sui) 70 73 74 70; D Huizing (Ned) 73 64 80 70; R Kakko (Fin) 72 74 73 68; J Dantorp (Swe) 69 75 74 69; M Brown (Nzl) 72 76 75 64; B Easton (RSA) 73 68 74 72;

288 B Evans (Eng) 70 71 77 70; T Pulkkanen (Fin) 77 66 75 70; M Simonsen (Den) 75 70 72 71; P Martin Benavides (Esp) 75 71 76 66; A Saddier (Fra) 73 66 78 71; J Harrison (Eng) 70 67 75 76; R Van Der Spuy (RSA) 71 71 77 69; R Davies (Wal) 77 66 76 69;

289 E Loar (USA) 72 67 74 76; J Hansen (Den) 67 75 74 73; O Rozner (Fra) 66 72 75 76; T Van Der Walt (RSA) 71 68 72 78; J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 70 68 71 80; U Van Den Berg (RSA) 68 75 73 73; R Saxton (Ned) 73 69 75 72; E Goya (Arg) 77 67 74 71; C Bouniol (Fra) 72 73 75 69; J Lando Casanova (Fra) 69 74 76 70; J Van Der Vaart (Ned) 71 70 80 68; M Perry (Nzl) 76 71 74 68; P Eriksson (Swe) 71 69 76 73; J Hugo (RSA) 72 71 78 68;

290 V Riu (Fra) 69 74 74 73; D Dixon (Eng) 74 67 79 70; C Carstensen (Ger) 69 72 78 71; Ruaidhri McGee (Irl) 73 72 72 73; M Laier (Ger) 74 68 79 69; S Surry (Eng) 71 75 75 69; A Quiros (Esp) 68 74 79 69; B Hemstock (Eng) 67 68 77 78; P Imondi (USA) 68 69 78 75;

291 P Kopp (Ger) 75 68 77 71; Kevin Phelan (Irl) 69 74 78 70; L Gagli (Ita) 71 69 75 76; M Wiegele (Aut) 69 74 77 71; D Gavins (Eng) 71 75 75 70;

292 C Koepka (USA) 66 76 81 69; O Farr (Wal) 73 69 79 71; M Fenasse (Fra) 73 72 76 71; B Pettersson (Swe) 76 68 79 69; O Henningsson (Swe) 74 72 75 71; M Lampert (Ger) 66 74 79 73; J Lara (Esp) 67 69 77 79;

293 M Crespi (Ita) 75 71 77 70; F Marty (Fra) 71 74 76 72;

294 M Madsen (Den) 74 68 79 73; R Evans (Eng) 75 65 78 76; C Del Moral (Esp) 74 72 81 67;

295 M Bremner (RSA) 70 69 80 76; A Velasco (Esp) 70 75 77 73; C Bull (Eng) 72 74 72 77; 

296 R Finch (Eng) 73 70 78 75; G Mulroy (RSA) 67 71 81 77;

297 B Virto (Esp) 78 67 75 77;

299 G Forrest (Sco) 74 71 81 73;

304 M Brier (Aut) 75 77 81 71;

306 M Vibe-Hastrup (Den) 75 78 80 73;

WD C Berardo (Fra) 73 73 84 WD; B Rumford (Aus) 73 75 75 WD; P Whiteford (Sco) 76 68 80 WD; B Munson (USA) 75 74 78 WD; K Ferrie (Eng) 72 75 RT 0; J Zunic (Aus) 80 71 WD; 

DQ J Edfors (Swe) DQ.