McGee digs deep as high winds send scores soaring at Q-School
 Gary Hurley speaks to European Tour referee José Maria Zamora as his group plays the par-five seventh, their 16th hole, on the Stadium Course during the third round of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort

Gary Hurley speaks to European Tour referee José Maria Zamora as his group plays the par-five seventh, their 16th hole, on the Stadium Course during the third round of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort

Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee resisted winds gusting to 30mph to keep his hopes of survival intact in the third round of European Tour Qualifying School at PGA Catalunya Resort.

On a day when West Waterford’s Gary Hurley struggled to a 76 and playing partner Kevin Phelan posted a six over 78 to see their chances making the 72 hole severely diminished, McGee’s level par 72 on the Stadium Course felt like a round in the mid-60s considering the scoring average there was 75.6.

At three over par, the 25-year old Derry man is three strokes outside the top 70 and ties who will make the four round cut and already seven outside the top 25 and ties who will be awarded tour cards. Still, he was upbeat.

“It feels a lot better than a 72,” said McGee, who was one under par playing the 18th but bunkered his approach and dropped his third shot of a very difficult day. 

“It was really tough out there and I actually hit a lot of fairways and greens, which is strange because I was missing everything the first two days when it was calm.”

Set play the easier Tour Course in round four, he’s praying that the leaders have as tough time on the Stadium Course today, adding: “Hopefully it'll stay windy and they come back. I seem to like it when there is a bit if wind anyway. I’ll just keep plodding along.

Five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey is still the best of the Irish quartet, just a shot outside the cut mark on one over par after a slumping to a six over 76 on the Tour Course where the field averaged 72.7 in round three — 4.6 shots more than on Sunday..

He’s five shots outside the card places and in danger of an early exit but he feels his game is still good enough to win his card, despite lurching home in six over 41.

Five under for the tournament and inside the top 25 as he made the turn, the 37-year old dropped six shots in a four-hole stretch early on his back nine with most of the damage done by a triple bogey seven at the third, where he thinned a chip into a pond.

“Chipping is normally a strength of mine. I am just out of kilter,” Hoey said, describing both his day and his season.

“The game is good but the focus and concentration is just not there. I haven’t had it this season. Hopefully I feel a little more centred tomorrow and we’ll have three more rounds.”

As for his game overall, Hoey believes he’s close to be a better player than ever.

“I know I could be a lot more consistent,” he said. “I know I have had a really bad year and the game can be a lot better than it is. I have worked with Mark Elliott on my mental game but it’s not the pressure to make money [that bothers me].

"I know I can do that. I don’t think about that. I just think I am very close to being really good.  I just have to get it all working together.”

Hurley and Phelan were unlucky that they were in the second group of the day to start on the back nine at the Stadium Course and with only a two-ball ahead of them, they ended up in the eye of the referees, spending most of the day on the clock.

Hurley freely admits that he is not a fast player in the world and he found it particularly difficult to play his usual game when on the clock, especially when conditions were so tough.

His short game and putting kept his head above water on his outward nine as he turned in one under par to get back to level for the tournament.

But with his group falling 20 minutes behind their allotted time by their final hole, he admitted he was affected by the constant attention of the hovering referee and his stopwatch and dropped five shots in a homeward 41 for a 76 that leaves him tied 107th and five shots outside the cut mark on five over.

“I wasn’t playing well at all and just holed a few putts early on,” said Hurley, who played with Kevin Phelan and the Swede Pontus Widegren.

“I was grinding but then on our back nine it was very difficult to stick to the allotted time and stay in position. It started to get to me a bit. 

“We were basically first out with a two-ball ahead of us so it was up to us to set the pace and being on the clock made it even tougher.” 

Phelan shot 78 to slip to 124th on seven over, admitting that losing time on the front nine cost their threeball on a tough day.

“It’s a tough course to begin with,” Phelan said. “The referees were after us a lot and it was tough to catch up with that wind.”

Only 15 players broke par all day, 11 on the Tour Course and four on the Stadium. An incredible, bogey free 67 by 2009 US PGA winner YE Yang was the best by three shots on the Stadium Course and the best of the day by far. 

It catapulted the South Korea 82 places up the leaderboard to tied 13th on five under par, just four shots adrift of England’s Robert Coles and Richard McEvoy.

They lead by one stroke from compatriot Ross McGowan and Dane Jeff Winther at the halfway stage of golf’s toughest test.

Like Yang, McGee's fourth round comes on the Tour Course and while conditions are expected to be somewhat easier, he will be hoping to make up more ground today. 

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

Detailed scores

203 R McEvoy (Eng) 63 69 71; R Coles (Eng) 64 68 71;

204 R McGowan (Eng) 68 66 70; J Winther (Den) 68 68 68; 

205 D Van Driel (Ned) 66 69 70; D Law (Sco) 66 71 68; T Chuayprakong (Tha) 64 74 67;

206 E Molinari (Ita) 66 68 72; S Heisele (Ger) 68 66 72; C Braeunig  (Ger) 66 67 73; E Van Rooyen (RSA) 71 67 68; O Lengden (Swe) 73 65 68;

207 J Parry (Eng) 71 67 69; B Neil (Sco) 64 72 71; E Pepperell (Eng) 69 69 69; J Guerrier (Fra) 69 70 68; A Rai (Eng) 66 67 74; N Johansson (Swe) 70 67 70; A Chesters (Eng) 68 66 73;

208 M Godoy (Arg) 65 74 69; L Canter (Eng) 69 66 73; M Lafeber (Ned) 65 71 72; J Fahrbring (Swe) 68 68 72; S Khan (Eng) 72 67 69; Z Lombard (RSA) 67 67 74; J Suri (USA) 64 70 74; S Manley (Wal) 72 63 73;

209 T Lewis (Eng) 73 65 71; O Wilson (Eng) 68 70 71; S Tiley (Eng) 64 71 74; C Sordet (Fra) 67 72 70; C Ford (Eng) 76 63 70; J Allan (Eng) 67 70 72; D Fox (Aus) 72 66 71; J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 70 68 71; K Horne (RSA) 68 72 69; S Henry (Sco) 64 75 70; E Kofstad (Nor) 67 68 74; B Eccles (Aus) 67 68 74; Y Yang (Kor) 72 70 67;

210 E Di Nitto (Ita) 70 69 71; R Gangjee (Ind) 68 69 73; R Echenique (Arg) 69 69 72; M Jonzon (Swe) 63 73 74; E Dubois (Fra) 71 65 74; 

211 T Van Der Walt (RSA) 71 68 72; M Orrin (Eng) 67 68 76; M Nixon (Eng) 67 73 71; N Kimsey (Eng) 70 70 71; R Johnson (Swe) 72 67 72; B Etchart (Esp) 66 72 73; J Blaauw (RSA) 71 67 73; R Kellett (Sco) 72 66 73; A Karlsson (Swe) 71 69 71; S Forsström (Swe) 72 67 72; A Connelly (USA) 71 67 73; 

212 B Hemstock (Eng) 67 68 77; R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 67 72 73; J Harrison (Eng) 70 67 75; R McCarthy (Aus) 74 64 74; S Webster (Eng) 64 74 74; R Gonzalez (Arg) 67 73 72; B Stow (Eng) 69 70 73; M Ford (Eng) 72 68 72; C Griffiths (Eng) 68 68 76; M Foster (Eng) 67 71 74; G Porteous (Eng) 73 66 73;

213 J Lara (Esp) 67 69 77; O Rozner (Fra) 66 72 75; M Lundberg (Swe) 71 70 72; J Ahlers (RSA) 70 71 72; E Loar (USA) 72 67 74; G King (Eng) 73 66 74; Michael Hoey (Nir) 70 67 76; 

214 D Burmester (RSA) 73 68 73; R Dinwiddie (Eng) 72 69 73; J Rutherford (Eng) 72 72 70; R Santos (Por) 73 68 73; P Maddy (Eng) 75 67 72; 

215 L Gagli (Ita) 71 69 75; B Easton (RSA) 73 68 74; P Imondi (USA) 68 69 78; T Linard (Fra) 73 67 75; J Heath (Eng) 70 71 74; A Maestroni (Ita) 68 74 73;

216 P Eriksson (Swe) 71 69 76; S Soderberg (Swe) 72 71 73; O Stark (Swe) 69 74 73; L De Jager (RSA) 72 70 74; U Van Den Berg (RSA) 68 75 73; J Hansen (Den) 67 75 74;

217 A Saddier (Fra) 73 66 78; V Riu (Fra) 69 74 74; P Widegren (Swe) 72 71 74; J Girrbach (Sui) 70 73 74; M Simonsen (Den) 75 70 72; Ruaidhri McGee (Irl) 73 72 72; R Saxton (Ned) 73 69 75; M Delpodio (Ita) 73 68 76; D Huizing (Ned) 73 64 80;

218 C Lee (Sco) 72 74 72; R Evans (Eng) 75 65 78; D Vancsik (Arg) 70 75 73; C Bull (Eng) 72 74 72; E Goya (Arg) 77 67 74; T Pulkkanen (Fin) 77 66 75; B Evans (Eng) 70 71 77; M Tullo (Chi) 72 69 77; J Dantorp (Swe) 69 75 74;

219 R Kakko (Fin) 72 74 73; C Carstensen (Ger) 69 72 78; G Axell (Swe) 76 68 75; J Lando Casanova (Fra) 69 74 76; M Lampert (Ger) 66 74 79; G Mulroy (RSA) 67 71 81; M Bremner (RSA) 70 69 80; R Van Der Spuy (RSA) 71 71 77; R Davies (Wal) 77 66 76; Gary Hurley (Irl) 74 69 76;

220 M Wiegele (Aut) 69 74 77; D Dixon (Eng) 74 67 79; P Oriol (Esp) 72 72 76; P Kopp (Ger) 75 68 77; C Bouniol (Fra) 72 73 75; B Virto (Esp) 78 67 75;

221 O Farr (Wal) 73 69 79; A Quiros (Esp) 68 74 79; M Perry (Nzl) 76 71 74; M Fenasse (Fra) 73 72 76; Kevin Phelan (Irl) 69 74 78; M Madsen (Den) 74 68 79; D Gavins (Eng) 71 75 75; S Surry (Eng) 71 75 75; J Van Der Vaart (Ned) 71 70 80; R Finch (Eng) 73 70 78; J Hugo (RSA) 72 71 78; F Marty (Fra) 71 74 76; O Henningsson (Swe) 74 72 75; M Laier (Ger) 74 68 79;

222 P Martin Benavides (Esp) 75 71 76; A Velasco (Esp) 70 75 77;

223 C Koepka (USA) 66 76 81; B Rumford (Aus) 73 75 75; M Brown (Nzl) 72 76 75; M Crespi (Ita) 75 71 77; B Pettersson (Swe) 76 68 79;

224 P Whiteford (Sco) 76 68 80;

226 G Forrest (Sco) 74 71 81; 

227 C Del Moral (Esp) 74 72 81; B Munson (USA) 75 74 78;

230 C Berardo (Fra) 73 73 84;

233 M Brier (Aut) 75 77 81; M Vibe-Hastrup (Den) 75 78 80; 

RT/WD K Ferrie (Eng) 72 75 RT; J Zunic (Aus) 80 71 WD; 

DQ J Edfors (Swe) DQ.