McGovern keeps cool to rule at Q-School
LAGOA, ALGARVE, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 04:  Brendan McGovern of Ireland in action during the final round of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Finals played at Pestana Resort Vale da Pinta on February 4, 2016 in Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal.  (Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images)

LAGOA, ALGARVE, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 04:  Brendan McGovern of Ireland in action during the final round of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Finals played at Pestana Resort Vale da Pinta on February 4, 2016 in Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal.  (Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images)

Brendan McGovern is determined to make a swift return to the European Senior Tour and after grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Qualifying School Final Stage, he believes having the correct mindset is more important than the quality of one’s golf.

The 51-year-old finished third at last year’s Final Stage, securing his playing rights for last season.

But while he finished 29th in the Order of Merit with winnings of €55,216 from his 11 starts, he finds himself in a 76-man battle at Pestana Golf Resort in Portugal for five cards for the 2017 Senior Tour season.

“It’s different from a normal tournament and you have to realise it’s 72 holes,” the Headfort professional explained.

"You can have a bad shot here and there, but there’s plenty of time to hit good shots. Attitude is more important than the golf at the moment.”

McGovern reached the turn at one under par, before picking up four more birdies on the back nine en route to a five under par round of 66 and a share of the lead with England's Peter Wilson.

“There’s a long way to go. I played very well and I kept myself in there,” said McGovern. “There were a couple of mistakes and I hit one poor tee shot on eight but, other than that, it was solid golf.

“I holed a good putt on the last for birdie, but the hole doesn’t suit the way I play. Some of the guys are driving it to within 30 yards of the hole. It leaves me struggling with my second shot but I holed a 25-footer, which I was so relieved about because it was still travelling.”

McGovern is one of three Irishmen at the Final Stage but it was a tougher day for Ballybunion amateur, Peter Sheehan, who is tied 42nd after a three over 74, or Lisburn Golf Club professional, Stephen Hamill, who's tied 55th after a 76.

Sheehan had five bogeys and two birdie fours in his 74 while Hamil's five over 76 saw him combine five birdies with four bogeys and three double bogeys.

After 54 holes, players within eight shots of fifth place (currently two under) will go forward to the final round, which will take place on Thursday. 

If more than one player is in fifth place after 72 holes, there will be a play-off to determine the winner of the fifth and final card.

Scores after round one

66 P Wilson (Eng), Brendan McGovern (Irl),

68 G Rusnak (USA), S Jensen (am) (Eng), 

69 C Hunsucker (USA), K Tenmark (Swe), J Bevan (Eng), 

70 J Hall (Eng), J Steenkamer (Ned), D Shacklady (Eng), C Dennis (USA), D Wettlaufer (Can), 

71 N Sweet (Eng), M Davis (Eng), M Molina (Arg), J Carter (USA), B Conser (USA), M Wharton (Eng), T Spence (Eng), J Kula (Fra), P Scarrett (am) (Eng), 

72 J Romero (Esp), Y Nilsson (Swe), P Streeter (Eng), G Joyner (Aus), A Fernandez (Chi), F Grosset-Grange (Fra), J Buendia (Esp), S McNally (Eng), G Ryall (Eng), J Sallat (Fra), D Narveson (USA), K Tarling (Can), 

73 D Westermark (Swe), J Carriles (Esp), F Mann (Sco), G Wall (Aus), S Bennett (Eng), T Giles (Eng), C Swart (RSA), M Wiggett (Eng), 

74 R Sabarros (Fra), J Cheetham (Eng), M Kierstenson (Eng), W Grant (Eng), J Berendt (Arg), Peter Sheehan (am) (Irl), M Haddock (am) (Eng), 

75 R Scheffer (Ned), B White (Eng), M Booth (Eng), A Sherborne (Eng), S Puzey (USA), T Elliott (Aus), 

76 N Mitchell (Eng), M Pyatt (Eng), S Cipa (Eng), J Quiros (Esp), C Baron (Eng), Stephen Hamill (Nir), G Banister (Aus), T Persson (am) (Swe), B Smith (am) (Eng), J Binch (am) (Eng), 

77 P Affleck (Wal), M Spooner (Eng), W Bladon (Eng), K Hutton (Sco), M Reynard (Eng), 

78 D Shaw (USA), 

79 M Nichols (Eng), M Macara (Wal), 

80 A Franco (Par), G Harris (Eng), 

81 M Gallagher (Eng), 

** R Gonzalez (Arg)