Steady Donnelly leads Irish assault at Alps Tour Q-School
 Luke Donnelly with his caddie, Calum McGregor

Luke Donnelly with his caddie, Calum McGregor

Kilkenny’s Luke Donnelly fired a two over 73 to keep his hopes of winning his card alive on a mixed opening day for the Irish in the Alps Tour Qualifying School Final Stage in Spain.

With the leading 35 players and ties earning cards after 54 holes, the 19-year old amateur parred every hole on the outward nine on the par-71 Europa Course, then mixed one birdie with three bogeys on the back nine to end the day tied 35th on two over.

Scores

England’s Miles Collins, 27, shot a six under  66 on the Asia course to take a one stroke lead over France’s Baptiste Chapellan.

But it was a mixed day, not just for the other three Irish entrants, but also for Walker Cup players Ewen Ferguson and Jack McDonald, who failed to make a birdie between them

McDonald is tied 55th after a three over 75 on the Asia Course while Golf Clément Ader’s Tommy O’Driscoll shot a four over 75 on the Europa to share 67th after mixing one birdie with five bogeys.

 Luke Donnelly

Luke Donnelly

Ferguson is a shot further back after he made five bogeys and 13 pars in a five over 76 to share 80th.

Castlebar’s Declan Loftus played the Europa Course and had to settle for a six over 77, carding one birdie, one bogey and three double bogey to end the day four shots outside the top 35 in a share of 93rd.

It was an even tougher day for O’Driscoll’s brother Eamonn as the young amateur compiled what turned out to be a laudable, eight over 79 on the Europa Course after pencilling in a 10 at his sixth hole.

While he made an impressive five birdies, he also had three bogeys, one double bogey, one triple bogey and a quintuple bogey 10 at the par-five 15th and needs a sensational second round on the Asia Course now to make the top 65 and ties who will survive the 36-hole cut.

Leader Collins knows how to get that done.

“The key to play Asia well is to keep the ball in play so to be very good from the tees,” he told the AlpsTourGolf.com. "I played well last year as well but I did not manage to sign for a decent score. I am very happy with my day.

“I will try to play the same tomorrow on the Europa course. I will study the pins position carefully to adapt my strategy.”

The best score on the more demanding Europa Course one was a four under 68 by Frenchman Antoine Rozner, a 23-year old who graduated from the University of Missouri last June. 

Tied for fourth with England's Reece Phillips, he played for Europe in the Palmer Cup at Formby and represented France in the World Amateur Team Championship in Mexico.

The leading 35 players after 54 holes will get Category 6 membership for 2017 with the rest of the field guaranteed Category 8. A new Category 9, has been created for those who miss the cut, giving them some starts in 2017.

According to the organisers, overnight rain will give way to dry conditions for the second round.