Kilkenny teenager Luke Donnelly recovered brilliantly from what could have been a tournament wrecking quadruple bogey eight at his fourth hole to finish inside the qualifying places after the opening round in the First Stage of the Alps Tour Q-School in Spain.
The talented amateur is at La Cala looking for nothing more than experience and he got that in spades on the opening day as he rebounded from his early “snowman” by adding two birdies and three bogeys for a five over 76 worth a share of 25th.
With 37 spots in the final stage up for grabs, Donnelly has not put himself out of the running for a place in the Final Stage, though he is eight strokes behind England’s Oliver Roberts, whose 68 gave him a one shot lead over four players.
The other two Irish amateur teenagers were in action on the Asia Course and while nerves clearly took their toll on all three Irishmen at La Cala, the newcomer said their first experience of professional golf was invaluable.
Bushfoot’s Owen Crooks, a player with international experience at Boys level and a winner over Irish Amateur Open champion Colm Campbell in this year’s North of Ireland Championship, told friends, “I was still shaking after seven holes.”
Hitting his second shot out of bounds at the 18th led to a triple bogey seven and a round of 79.
He had experienced Alos Tour player, Tommy O'Driscoll as his caddie and is just a shot outside the qualifying places in joint 49th on seven over par,
Hes also just one strile behind fTommy's brother and fellow amateur Eamonn O’Driscoll, who shot 78 to share 43rd despite taking seven at the par-five 16th following a tee shot out of bounds.
England’s Phillip Kelly fired an astonishing, eight under 64 to take a five stroke lead over a group of three players on the Asia Course.
No fewer than 151 players are trying progress to the Final Stage which takes place at the same venue from December 15-17.
At the end of this exam, 65 players and ties will gain their ‘card’ for the 2017 Alps Tour season.