Jack Hume and Stephen Grant withdrew after two disappointing rounds but Gary Hurley is flying high after a second round 64 at the Second Qualifying Stage of the European Tour Q-School in Spain.
Playoffs are likely after Monday's fourth round with just 17 spots up for grabs at each of the four venues. But West Waterford ace Hurley put himself in pole position to make it to PGA Catalunya for the Final Stage when he made eight birdies in a seven under par 64 to leap 23 places into a three way tie for the lead at Las Colinas Golf & Country Club in Alicante.
The 23-year old former Walker Cup winner is tied on nine under par with Sweden's Oscar Lengden and Italy's Andrea Maestroni with fellow Waterford man Kevin Phelan right on the mark in joint 15th place on five under after a 69.
Jonny Caldwell looks all but out of it on two over after a 73 there while former footballer Grant, who had opted for European after a clash with the Second Stage of the Web.com Tour Q-School to play in Europe, will now head to the US after all.
The Birr native, 39, added a 75 to his opening 73 and headed back to the US to tee it up in the Second Stage of the Web,com Tour Q-School at Plantation Preserve in Florida from November 8-11.
There will be no second chance for Hume, who was suffering from a neck problem before heading to Spain and withdrew at Panoramica Golf & Spa Resort in Castellón.
With his long game misfiring, the Naas man added a 77 to his opening 75 to soar to eight over and with the top 17 already on six under or better, he felt it was more prudent to withdraw rather than risk doing himself further damage.
Headfort's Brian Casey is seven shots outside the mark there after rounds of 71 and 73, but there was better news for the Irish at Lumine Golf and Beach Club and at El Saler, where Niall Kearney (70-71) and Cormac Sharvin (68-73) are just a shot outside the mark in 18th place on three under.
Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge looks out of it there on six over after a pair of 75s but Limerick's Tim Rice can still make it to the Final Stage from Lumine Golf & Beach Club in Tarragona, where he followed a 68 with a 69 to share 17th place on five under par.
At level par, Rosapenna's Ruaidhri McGee (70-72) needs a good round in Tarragona on Sunday to keep his hopes alive while Declan Loftus has a lot of ground to make up after two 73s left him on four over
European Tour Q-School Second Qualifying Stage
Las Colinas Golf & Country Club, Alicante, Spain
T1 HURLEY, Gary -9 69 64 133
LENGDEN, Oscar -9 69 64 133
MAESTRONI, Andrea -9 67 66 133
T15 PHELAN, Kevin -5 68 69 137
T60 CALDWELL, Jonathan* +2 71 73 144
W/D GRANT, Stephen +6 73 75 WD
Campo de Golf El Saler, Valencia, Spain
T1 CARSTENSEN, Christopher -8 65 71 136
T1 MARTY, Fabien -8 64 72 136
T18 KEARNEY, Niall -3 70 71 141
T18 SHARVIN, Cormac -3 68 73 141
T68 SELFRIDGE, Chris* +6 10:20 75 75 150
Lumine Golf & Beach Club, Tarragona, Spain
T1 BULL, Charlie -9 65 68 133
T1 HEMSTOCK, Billy -9 66 67 133
T17 RICE, Tim -5 69 68 137
T51 MCGEE, Ruaidhri* +1 70 72 142
T71 LOFTUS, Declan* +4 73 73 146
Panoramica Golf & Sport Resort, Castellón, Spain
1 CANTER, Laurie -14 65 65 130
T51 CASEY, Brian +1 71 73 144
WD HUME, Jack +8 75 77 WD