At Q-School nobody can hear you scream
Dermot McElroy walks to the recorder's hut after his second round at Lumine's Hills Course on Sunday. Picture © Brian Keogh

Dermot McElroy walks to the recorder's hut after his second round at Lumine's Hills Course on Sunday. Picture © Brian Keogh

You can hear squeals and screams all day but they’re floating in on the fresh sea breeze from the nearby Port Aventura amusement park.

At Lumine Golf Club, which is hosting the Final Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School, 156 European Tour hopefuls are just battling to keep their emotions in check and finish in the top 25 and ties after six rounds. 

The screaming is internal.

For Mount Juliet touring professional Gavin Moynihan, a change in the exemption categories for next season means that he needs a top 10 finish to improve on the dozen starts he will already get on the European Tour in 2018.

And while he birdied his final hole at Lumine’s Hills Course, hitting a five-iron 176 yards to 15 feet to card a level par 72 and share 32nd on two-under-par after two rounds, he knows he must improve his iron play if he’s to achieve his goal.

“To be honest, I thought I’d be 52nd and near the cut line rather than 32nd,” Moynihan said. “So I am only a couple of shot from where I want to be. 

“Two shots better and I am near the top and I know I have a low one in me because my putter feels good. I have been nowhere near my best.

"I hit a good shot into the last there but my iron play wasn’t good today. I made a good few birdies and holed a few nice putts in the middle of the round but I just struggled with my swing again today." 

Moynihan lost a ball in a tree trying to lay up at his second hole, the par-five 11th, and made a double-bogey seven "from nowhere".

Gavin Moynihan retrieves his ball after his closing birdie at the ninth in round two. Picture © Brian Keogh

Gavin Moynihan retrieves his ball after his closing birdie at the ninth in round two. Picture © Brian Keogh

He didn't panic but after bouncing back with four birdies in five holes either side of the turn, he made three bogeys in the next five before a sweet 15 footer dropped for birdie at the ninth.

England’s Tom Murray shot 63 and Italian Andrea Pavan a 68 on the Hills Course to lead by a shot from Switzerland’s Jeff Winther on 10-under par.

Moynihan (23) is eight strokes off the lead but just three shots outside the top ten in the marathon, six-round test.

But the other three Irish in action are now battling to make the cut for the top 70 and ties after tomorrow’s fourth round.

Derry’s Ruaidhri McGee is two shots outside the projected mark on two-over even after he made two late birdies to salvage a one-over 73 on the Hills.

"They were needed," McGee said of his birdies at the 15th and 16th. "How was the season? It can be fixed this week. That’s the best way to put it.

"It’s done now so there is no point in talking about it but I feel I am going in the right direction. I’d like to think I am a better player, if not, I’m in the wrong game.

Gavin Moynihan plays his approach to the ninth. Picture © Brian Keogh

Gavin Moynihan plays his approach to the ninth. Picture © Brian Keogh

“I just feel I am more mature. 26? Yes. Getting on. Today I made a few nice birdies and I needed those two birdies at the finish.”

Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin is 131st on five over after a 74 on the Lakes Course — "Haven't been able to get anything going, unfortunately," he said — while  Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy is tied 139th on six-over after a 75 at the Lumine’s Hills Course that should have been several shots lower. 

Two-under-par after nine holes and back to just one over for the tournament, he frittered away five shots in seven holes with the killer a double-bogey seven at the 16th that was all down to mental arithmetic.

"I had a bad finish to be honest," McElroy said wistfully. "I played very solidly on the front nine and wasn’t outside 20 feet the whole way around and was two under for those holes.

"Then I bogeyed 10 and missed quite a few chances on the way in. I hit a good shot into 14 but the wind didn’t move it and it ended up in a bad spot and I didn’t get it up and down.

Then on 15 I was up the face of a bunker after a bad tee shot (bogey). On the par-five (16th), I was just laying up and I hooked it and the wind got it and it went into the cabbage on the left. So I hacked back out onto the fairway and then made the stupid mistake of following one error with another.

“I made a mistake adding 51 and 16. I thought it was 76 yards and it’s obviously 66, so I flew the green with a wedge into the back bunker and took three more to get down from there. I thought I had 80 yards instead of 70 yards and it was into the wind so I hit my 85-yard shot. I do my own yardages and then agree with my caddie on it but we didn’t there. 

“So I played well and hit 14 or 15 greens today and hit it close but the putter is very, very cold. I am still playing well despite shooting two poor scores.

Q-Schoo. It's an emotional rollercoaster. Picture © Brian Keogh

Q-Schoo. It's an emotional rollercoaster. Picture © Brian Keogh

"I haven’t played like I’m six over. I have barely missed a fairway or a green. I am just not putting very well. I am still confident in the way I am playing and just need a couple of putts to drop and then I feel I can shoot 7-8 under.

Co-leader Murray needed only 29 shots over his back nine holes as a second round of 63 took him into a share of the lead with Pavan with 72 holes still to play.

The Englishman arrived at Lumine Golf Club with the pressure somewhat off, knowing that only a top ten this week could improve the European Tour category he has already gained from his Challenge Tour exploits this term, and he was at his relaxed best on Day Two in Tarragona.

The 27-year-old’s nine under par round – nine birdies and no bogeys – came on the Hills Course, following his opening one under par round of 70 on the Lakes Course yesterday, and he was delighted to see some reward for his recent efforts in practice.

“I’m feeling alright!” he said. “A few putts went in and I just seemed to get it up and down when I needed to, it was just one of those good days.

“It’s such a long week that you have to be boring and take it day by day and not do anything dramatic – that said, I do realise today was quite dramatic! You don’t expect to shoot 63 so that was nice.

“We’re all here for the same reason. The end of the year on the Challenge Tour didn’t quite go as planned but I flew my coach out to Oman for last week’s Grand Final and I played pretty well and felt like it’s been coming.

“A good week this week would wipe out all the disappointment from 2017 so far, and the pressure’s sort of off me a bit anyway, which I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and see where I end up.”

Pavan, meanwhile, has been the star of the last week of Q-School, jointly winning the Second Stage tournament at Panoramica before carrying that form across to Lumine, with his 68 today on the Hills Course taking him alongside Murray on ten under par overall.

The Italian, a four-time winner on the Challenge Tour as well as a past rankings winner, has struggled to find his finest form this year but has looked back to his best in Spain, going bogey-free for the first 36 holes at Final Stage to put himself firmly in contention for a return to the European Tour.

TARRAGONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 11:  Tom Murray of England in action during the first round of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at Lumine Golf Club on November 11, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

TARRAGONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 11:  Tom Murray of England in action during the first round of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at Lumine Golf Club on November 11, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

“I don’t know what’s going well right now!” said the 28-year-old. “I’ve struggled a lot this year but from September onwards I started to play better and this week I’ve been putting pretty well so that’s helped.

“I knew today was going to be a tough day but my game felt good and I know what I’ve got to do, but it wasn’t an easy round – there are some strong holes and you’ve got to hit good shots.

“It’s great not to have made a bogey but there’s going to come a stretch when I’m not playing well – hopefully not, but it’s likely! I’m just going to try not to worry about the outcome and enjoy myself.

“It puts me in a good position now. The last few years on the golf course have been very tough but I think I’ve started playing better lately, my confidence has been boosted a little bit.

“To get back on the European Tour would be a dream. Off the tee is my weakness but it’s getting better and I know that the rest of my game can compare to the guys on the tour so I need to keep improving but I hope I will be ready if I make it.”

Also maintaining his form is Denmark’s Jeff Winther, who shared the top spot with Pavan last week and is only one shot behind after two rounds after his 67 took him to nine under par overall and into third place.

Laurie Canter’s round of 64 was the best by any player on the Lakes Course on the second day and took the Englishman into a share of fourth place with compatriot Ben Evans and overnight leader Gary Stal.

Stuart Manley is living up to his reputation as something of a Q-School specialist by moving into a share of seventh spot on six-under-par – the Welshman is playing Final Stage for the 11th time and has previously earned a card on six occasions, including each of the last two years.

Cat. 2018 Exemption Categories
1 Winners of The Race to Dubai and Majors
2 Winners of Rolex Series events and WGC’s
3 Winners of tournaments equal to or above 1.5M Euro, or in 2018 equal to or above 1.75M Race to Dubai points and men’s Olympic Gold Medal winner
4 Winners of events below 1.5 M Euro purse or in 2018 below 1.75m Race to Dubai Points & winners of Dual ranking events in current season
5 Invitations
6 Top 5/10 from previous tournament
7 National spots
8 Members of the 2016 Ryder Cup Team
9 Top 101 from the final 2017 Race to Dubai
10 Top 10 not otherwise exempt from the final 2017 Access List
11 Top 40 from the final 2017 Career Money List
12 Past Winners of event (non-Rolex Series) who are ranked ET/CT Members under the age of 50
13 Winners of Dual ranking tournaments 2017 season, followed by winners of 3 Challenge Tour tournaments in 2017 season.
14 1-15 from the final 2017 Challenge Tour Rankings
15 Winners of 3 Challenge Tour events in 2018 season.
16 Leading player not otherwise exempt in top 10 from each of the following bodies’ final Orders of Merit from the 2017 season: - Asian Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, KPGA, CGA
17 Top 10 & ties from 2017 Qualifying School followed by
102-111 from final 2017 Race to Dubai followed by
11-25 and ties from 2017 Qualifying School
18 112-127 from Final 2017 Race to Dubai + 16-30 from Final 2017 Challenge Tour Rankings + next 5 from Final 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit in alternating order.
19 128-147 from final 2017 Race to Dubai
20 2017 & 2018 Challenge Tour Winners
21 31-45 from final 2017 Challenge Tour Rankings
22 Made cut at Qualifying School but finished below 25 and ties, followed by next 20 from 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit

European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage, Lumine Golf Club (Lakes Course, Par 71; Hills Course, Par 72) Tarragona

133 T Murray (Eng) 70 63; A Pavan (Ita) 65 68;

134 J Winther (Den) 67 67; 

135 L Canter (Eng) 71 64; G Stal (Fra) 64 71; B Evans (Eng) 69 66; 

137 S Horsfield (Eng) 69 68; S Manley (Wal) 69 68; 

138 J Vecchi Fossa (Ita) 67 71; J Arnoy (Nor) 70 68; C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 69 69; H Sturehed (Swe) 67 71; R Macintyre (Sco) 67 71; 

---Top 10---

139 M Foster (Eng) 67 72; P Howard (Eng) 73 66; C Lloyd (Eng) 68 71; S Heisele (Ger) 72 67; S Gros (Fra) 70 69; P Mejow (Ger) 69 70; J Thomson (Eng) 67 72; 

140 Ó Serna (Mex) 68 72; M Schwab (Aut) 71 69; K Johannessen (Nor) 71 69; A Arnaus (Esp) 70 70; C Braeunig (Ger) 70 70; J Heath (Eng) 72 68; M Baldwin (Eng) 71 69; P Pittayarat (Tha) 70 70; J Munro (Aus) 69 71; Å Nilsson (Swe) 71 69; K Koivu (am) (Fin) 70 70; 

--Top 25 and ties---

141 M Nixon (Eng) 70 71; D Law (Sco) 68 73; N Geyger (Chi) 67 74; C Blomstrand (Swe) 72 69; N Fasth (Swe) 72 69; M Lafeber (Ned) 68 73; O Wilson (Eng) 67 74; K Broberg (Swe) 70 71; P Widegren (Swe) 69 72; E Johansen (Nor) 68 73; N Kimsey (Eng) 68 73; H Otto (RSA) 70 71; M Millar (Aus) 74 67; J Quesne (Fra) 69 72; Gavin Moynihan (Irl) 69 72; A Knappe (Ger) 69 72; J Veerman (USA) 71 70; 

142 K Samooja (Fin) 73 69; C Ford (Eng) 73 69; J Kruyswijk (RSA) 71 71; S Tiley (Eng) 72 70; A Blyth (Aus) 71 71; M Armitage (Eng) 71 71; J Huldahl (Den) 67 75; A Hall (Aus) 73 69; M Schneider (Ger) 68 74; A Hansen (Den) 71 71; B Easton (RSA) 69 73; G Fernandez - Castaño (Esp) 72 70; J Edfors (Swe) 70 72; M Giles (Aus) 76 66; 

143 S Webster (Eng) 69 74; J Geary (Nzl) 72 71; M Salminen (Fin) 71 72; J Van Der Vaart (Ned) 69 74; J Brun (Fra) 72 71; F Aguilar (Chi) 73 70; R McGowan (Eng) 72 71; S Khan (Eng) 72 71; J Dean (Eng) 69 74; L Nemecz (Aut) 70 73; P Angles (Esp) 73 70; M Fenasse (Fra) 73 70; J Lima (Por) 74 69; 

---Top 70 and ties---

144 J Sjöholm (Swe) 71 73; J Rutherford (Eng) 72 72; M Lundberg (Swe) 74 70; M Iten (Sui) 74 70; O Lindell (Fin) 73 71; R Gonzalez (Arg) 71 73; C Doak (Sco) 73 71; D Papadatos (Aus) 71 73; S Vincent (Zim) 72 72; M Orrin (Eng) 72 72; E Park (Kor) 72 72; E Ferguson (Sco) 74 70; T Tree (Eng) 72 72; L Gagli (Ita) 71 73; E De La Riva (Esp) 73 71; R Kellett (Sco) 77 67; T Lewis (Eng) 75 69; J Carlsson (Swe) 76 68; A Michael (RSA) 73 71; 

145 M Jonzon (Swe) 72 73; J Janewattananond (Tha) 74 71; T Cocha (Arg) 74 71; J Hansen (Den) 72 73; B Hafthorsson (Isl) 73 72; S Dyson (Eng) 77 68; A Haig (RSA) 74 71; Ruaidhri McGee (Irl) 72 73; G Forrest (Sco) 73 72; H Leon (Chi) 73 72; N Cullen (Aus) 73 72; M Lampert (Ger) 73 72; P Maddy (Eng) 77 68; D Foos (Ger) 72 73; C Syme (Sco) 72 73; D Huizing (Ned) 73 72; D Brown (Eng) 71 74;

146 J Erkenbeck (USA) 73 73; S Soderberg (Swe) 71 75; M Ford (Eng) 74 72; R Petersson (Swe) 73 73; R Dinwiddie (Eng) 73 73; A Cañizares (Esp) 73 73; J Walters (RSA) 75 71; R Green (Aus) 74 72; F Dreier (Den) 72 74; J Parry (Eng) 70 76; J Stalter (Fra) 70 76; E Di Nitto (Ita) 76 70; 

147 C Nilsson (Swe) 77 70; S Gregory (Eng) 73 74; S Henry (Sco) 78 69; R Kakko (Fin) 69 78; R Echenique (Arg) 76 71; R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 72 75; T Sinnott (Aus) 74 73; 

148 Cormac Sharvin (Nir) 74 74; J Fernandez-Valdes (Arg) 78 70; A Garcia-Heredia (Esp) 76 72; R McEvoy (Eng) 70 78; S Hutsby (Eng) 74 74; S Sharma (Ind) 75 73; J Fahrbring (Swe) 78 70; O Gillberg (am) (Swe) 73 75; 

149 Dermot McElroy (Nir) 74 75; M Trappel (Aut) 73 76; F Fritsch (Ger) 75 74; A Rosaye (Fra) 72 77; 

150 M Madsen (Den) 77 73; D Stewart (Sco) 78 72; A Rozner (Fra) 69 81; M Kim (Kor) 76 74; 

151 L Vaisanen (Fin) 77 74; R Enoch (Wal) 74 77; A Meronk (Pol) 79 72; 

152 G Porteous (Eng) 78 74; 

153 J Jeong (Kor) 76 77; B Ritthammer (Ger) 82 71; 

154 C Del Moral (Esp) 78 76; 

WD J Girrbach (Sui) 75 76; N Holman (Aus) 78 75; N Von Dellingshausen (Ger) 81 75.