Late eagle boosts McElroy as Irish start well at Q-School
Dermot McElroy. Picture © Jimmy Penrose

Dermot McElroy. Picture © Jimmy Penrose

All four Irish entrants finished outside the magical top 23 and ties who will progress but it was still a positive opening day for the Irish in European Tour Qualifying School First Stage Qualifier at Collingtree Park. Just ask Dermot McElroy,

The Ballymena rookie was the worst of the quartet with a one over par 73 leaving him tied for 46th, three strokes outside the top 23 who will progress to November's Second Stage in Spain from the Northampton venue.

As Headfort's Joe Dillon and Brian Casey and Warrenpoint amateur Colm Campbell Jnr opened with one under 71s to share 24th place, McElroy started on the back nine and went triple bogey-bogey (7-5).

Four over after two holes is not the ideal way to begin your quest for a European Tour card but McElroy showed he's got some serious determination when he birdied the 13th and 14th and then followed a bogey at the 18th with eight pars and a closing eagle three at the ninth.

He's still go work to do over the next three days to close the gap on England's Alex Belt, who shot a seven under 65 to lead by one stroke from Thailand's Gunn Charoenkul and compatriot Ben Parker.

As for the other Irish, it was a good day overall.

Irish Amateur Open winner Campbell turned in one over after following an early birdie with bogeys at his eighth and ninth holes but kept his cool to birdie the first and ninth at Collingtree for his 71.

Casey and Dillon both had two birdies and a bogey in their 71s and will be looking to get birdies in the bank in Wednesday's second round.

Just the top 22 and ties will progress at Ebreichsdorf in Austria but there were no Irish in action with Rory McNamara seeking another venue in Section C or D while Richard Bridges withdrew and did not travel due to back problems.