Q-School: Hoey just two off card pace but Hurley targeting another 65
 Michael Hoey plays his second to the par-five seventh in the fifth round of Q-School at PGA Catalunya Resort

Michael Hoey plays his second to the par-five seventh in the fifth round of Q-School at PGA Catalunya Resort

Michael Hoey made a 25 footer for par at the last and goes into the sixth and final round of the European Tour Qualifying School with a fighting chance of winning back his card.

The 37-year old carded a veteran’s three under par 69 in perfect windless conditions on the testing Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya to move up 23 places to joint 39th on three under par.

While that’s two strokes outside the top 25 and ties who will be awarded tour cards on Thursday evening, the Ballymoney professional insists he will be a far happier golfer next season no matter what he shoots as he has a greater understanding of his golf swing than ever before.

As Gary Hurley’s level par 72 alongside Hoey and Steve Webster leaves him needing a probable 66 or 65 to win his card, Hoey made six birdies and three bogeys in a solid display of ball-striking that could have been far better with a little more luck on the greens.

“If I had putted well I would have shot six under today,” Hoey said after getting up and down for a great par four at the tough ninth, where the steep lip of a fairway bunker prevented him from going for the green in regulation.

“I left three shots out there but I am happy that after all these years I finally feel I have figured out my swing and I can hit the ball well. 

“So if I miss my card here by one stroke or make it by three, I will take that into next year. I will be able to take good ball striking into the new season.”

Hoey credits coach Seamus Duffy with his new-found understanding of his golf swing but he was also helped in Girona by having friend and his former caddie Ryan McGuigan on his bag.

“Ryan said I was very level emotionally today,” Hoey said of a round that could have gotten way from him had he shown frustration as he missed a series of makeable putts in the middle of his round. 

“I was pleased to hole that putt on the last there for par. I was good all day mentally. I hit a couple of bad shots but you always get that in a round. You can survive the bad shots if you putt decently.

“That’s one of the benefits of being a bit under the weather, I guess. I can play better when I am not quite feeling 100 percent.”

When he made a 15 footer for birdie at the third (his 12th) to go two under for the day, then hit his approach to three feet at the next, Hoey was off and running.

Even when he hooked a five iron into the pond at the par-three fifth, he didn’t panic but got up and down from 25 yards for bogey, then got that shot back with a birdie four from eight feet at the seventh before saving par at the ninth. 

“I am not far away,” he said. “The putt on the seventh and the one on the last made it a good day. And the bogey on five was actually good too. Make double there and mentally you don’t have much chance tomorrow.

“But with the top 25 at five under, I need three or four under tomorrow and that could be enough. After the [six over] third round on the Tour Course, to still have a chance is not too bad.”

Hurley got off to a great start with an early eagle three at the 12th, his third, but he bogeyed the 13th, 16th and 18th to turn in one over par and had to dig deep on the back nine to keep his card hopes on life support

He birdied the second from three feet and the third from 15 but then failed to get up and down for par from bunkers at the fifth and sixth before clambering his way back to level par with an up and down from sand for a birdie at the par-five seventh.

“I actually played a lot better today,” said Hurley, who had to hole a 18 footer for par at the first and several other putts of five feet for pars. “I hit a couple of ropey shots but I felt a lot better over the ball. I guess it could have been better and it could have been worse.  

“My bunker shots were just slightly out - on the fifth I was a foot away from running it down stone dead. So I played average and didn’t do anything spectacular or anything pretty badly either. 

“I need to shoot six or seven under tomorrow now so we’ll see. It can be done. It’s definitely in me.”

Former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari fired a stunning, five under par 67 to lead by three stokes from ovenight leader Nathan Kimsey (73) on 14 under par with Matthew Nixon (68), Eddie Pepperell (69) Richard McEvoy (72) and Tom Lewis (70) five behind in joint third on nine under.

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

After round 5 (Stadium Course):

342 E Molinari (Ita) 66 68 72 69 67;

345 N Kimsey (Eng) 70 70 71 61 73;

347 R McEvoy (Eng) 63 69 71 72 72; T Lewis (Eng) 73 65 71 68 70; M Nixon (Eng) 67 73 71 68 68; E Pepperell (Eng) 69 69 69 71 69;

348 N Johansson (Swe) 70 67 70 69 72; J Rutherford (Eng) 72 72 70 66 68; M Orrin (Eng) 67 68 76 67 70;

349 R Coles (Eng) 64 68 71 72 74; S Henry (Sco) 64 75 70 72 68; P Maddy (Eng) 75 67 72 67 68; Y Yang (Kor) 72 70 67 69 71;

350 J Heath (Eng) 70 71 74 65 70; S Soderberg (Swe) 72 71 73 65 69; J Winther (Den) 68 68 68 71 75; A Karlsson (Swe) 71 69 71 68 71; J Fahrbring (Swe) 68 68 72 72 70; Z Lombard (RSA) 67 67 74 72 70; M Foster (Eng) 67 71 74 72 66; A Chesters (Eng) 68 66 73 73 70; 

351 R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 67 72 73 71 68; R McGowan (Eng) 68 66 70 72 75; S Manley (Wal) 72 63 73 69 74; P Widegren (Swe) 72 71 74 66 68; R Gangjee (Ind) 68 69 73 71 70; S Tiley (Eng) 64 71 74 71 71; R Johnson (Swe) 72 67 72 71 69; J Parry (Eng) 71 67 69 75 69; K Horne (RSA) 68 72 69 72 70; 

352 E Kofstad (Nor) 67 68 74 71 72; J Allan (Eng) 67 70 72 73 70; C Braeunig (Ger) 66 67 73 74 72; R Gonzalez (Arg) 67 73 72 71 69; D Law (Sco) 66 71 68 76 71; L Canter (Eng) 69 66 73 73 71; A Connelly (Can) 71 67 73 69 72; D Fox (Aus) 72 66 71 70 73;

353 D Burmester (RSA) 73 68 73 68 71; G Porteous (Eng) 73 66 73 70 71; J Suri (USA) 64 70 74 73 72; M Hoey (Nir) 70 67 76 71 69;

354 E Di Nitto (Ita) 70 69 71 73 71; J Blaauw (RSA) 71 67 73 72 71; R Kellett (Sco) 72 66 73 72 71; O Lengden (Swe) 73 65 68 78 70; O Wilson (Eng) 68 70 71 72 73; M Lundberg (Swe) 71 70 72 67 74; J Ahlers (RSA) 70 71 72 67 74; M Lafeber (Ned) 65 71 72 75 71; R Echenique (Arg) 69 69 72 71 73; E Dubois (Fra) 71 65 74 73 71;

355 C Ford (Eng) 76 63 70 69 77; M Delpodio (Ita) 73 68 76 67 71; E Van Rooyen (RSA) 71 67 68 74 75; S Heisele (Ger) 68 66 72 73 76; S Khan (Eng) 72 67 69 73 74; M Ford (Eng) 72 68 72 72 71;

356 G Hurley (Irl) 74 69 76 65 72; J Guerrier (Fra) 69 70 68 74 75; A Rai (Eng) 66 67 74 74 75; R Dinwiddie (Eng) 72 69 73 70 72; D Van Driel (Ned) 66 69 70 73 78;

357 R McCarthy (Aus) 74 64 74 70 75; B Eccles (Aus) 67 68 74 74 74; B Etchart (Esp) 66 72 73 72 74; B Stow (Eng) 69 70 73 72 73; G King (Eng) 73 66 74 69 75;

358 S Webster (Eng) 64 74 74 72 74; T Chuayprakong (Tha) 64 74 67 74 79;

359 A Maestroni (Ita) 68 74 73 69 75;

362 B Neil (Sco) 64 72 71 77 78.