Q-School: Moynihan in the mix; Sharvin, McGee and McElroy break par
Gavin Moynihan two putts for par on the 18th at Lumine's Hills Course. Picture © Brian Keogh

Gavin Moynihan two putts for par on the 18th at Lumine's Hills Course. Picture © Brian Keogh

Gavin Moynihan roared into contention for his European Tour card on a positive day for the Irish at the Final Stage of the Qualifying School in Spain.

The Dubliner (23) fired six birdies in a five-under-par 67 in Monday’s third round and moved up 19 places to tied 13th at halfway, just a shot outside the top 10 in the 108-hole marathon.

After finishing 19th on the Challenge Tour this year, the Mount Juliet touring professional will get up to a dozen European Tour starts in 2018.

But a top-10 finish after six rounds at Lumine Golf Club could make him eligible for twice as many events and he was pleased with his round on the Hills Course yesterday.

“It could have been a bit better but it was a good day,” said Moynihan, who is just six shots behind England’s Laurie Canter who also shot 67 on the Hills course to lead by a shot from compatriots Sam Horsfield and Ben Evans on 13-under-par. 

“I’m happy enough and now I have three rounds on the Lakes Course to try and make the top 10. It was a good day and I played nicely.”

Winds gusting to 100 kph buffeted Salou overnight but while they had abated by morning, Moynihan still hit a five-iron 270 yards down the first fairway on a day when Scotland’s Connor Syme hit a best-of-the-week, eight-under 63 on the Lakes Course to move into the crucial top 25.

With the breeze dropping to a steady 15mph, scoring was red-hot with the top 70 and ties who will make the cut after today’s fourth round already one-under-par.

While Moynihan struggled early in his rounds and was one over after five holes, he holed a bunker shot for a birdie at the sixth and never looked back.

“That really kick-started the round and I played lovely on the back nine and could have been a bit better,” said Moynihan, who birdied the seventh to turn in 35 before racing home in 32.

After a chip and putt birdie at the driveable 12th, Moynihan hit a wedge to six feet at the 13th when rifled a six-iron to 20 feet at the 14th and holed the slippery downhill putt.

Now four under for the day, the two-time Walker Cup star hit a 256-yard three wood into the wind to 40 feet at the 16th and two-putted for his sixth birdie of the day.

“My ball striking was very good and I drove it great,” Moynihan added. “It could have been a bit better but it was a good day. Happy enough and now I have three rounds on the Lakes course.

“I prefer this one because everyone is forced to hit it into the same areas. The other one, it helps if you are a bit longer. But the greens are much better on the Lakes.

Cormac Sharvin was happy with his four-under 67 on the Lakes Course at Lumine. Picture © Brian Keogh

Cormac Sharvin was happy with his four-under 67 on the Lakes Course at Lumine. Picture © Brian Keogh

It was a good day for all four Irish with Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin firing a four-under-par 67 on the Lakes Course to move up to tied 86th on one-over alongside Derry’s Ruaidhri McGee, who shot a 70 at the same track.

“It's nice to post a score,” said Sharvin, who is two strokes outside the projected cut mark.

“I feel like I have been playing alright the last two days and just haven't got anything going and any bad shot I hit was getting punished. Today, I just didn't miss a shot to be honest.”

Sharvin missed a couple of early chances but then hit a gap wedge to four feet at the fifth and a five-iron to six feet behind the hole on the seventh to turn in two-under.

He then hit his approach to four feet from a bunker at the 11th and reduced the 13th to a two-iron, a wedge and a 12-foot putt to go four under for the day.

After making a good putt for par at the 15th, he bogeyed the 16th when he drove under the lip of a bunker and had to pitch out sideways. 

But he made amends at the 18th, holing an 18 footer for birdie for his 67.

“I hit the first 14 greens and was four under and I missed two chances in there as well,” he said. “The 16th put a bit of a dampener on my round, and I was a little pissed off after that, but it was nice to hole an 18 footer on the last for birdie.

“The first few days were frustrating because I was playing so nicely. To be honest, it has been playing tough with the wind, so it was nice to post a decent round today and get myself back in it.

“Three good rounds to finish and you have a chance to get your European Tour card, so that's the goal. I'll try and put three good rounds together and see where it takes me.

“To have a full Challenge Tour card from where I was going into the last event took the pressure off. So if the worst comes to the worst, I have that.

“I haven't played well all year. So it was nice to turn it around and then come through last week with a low round. I feel I have a few low ones in me and I can take it really deep these last few rounds. Hopefully, that will get me inside that top 25.”

McGee made three birdies and two bogeys in a 70 and knows he needs to see some putts fall soon.

“I'll just go out and give it a good go for, hopefully, the last three days,” the Derry man said. “The cut looks like it will be two under so the plan is to go out and shoot four or five under.

“It would be nice to hole a few putts because I haven't holed any so far. I haven't missed many but I am due a few.”

Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy shot a two-under 69 on the Lakes Course and at four-over-par, he knows he needs “a low one” at the Hills Course today to move into the top 70.

“I had a great day and played brilliantly all day,” McElroy said. “Again, it was very frustrating on the greens and I holed absolutely nothing all day.”

TARRAGONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 13:  Sam Horsfield of England in action during round three of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at Lumine Golf Club on November 13, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

TARRAGONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 13:  Sam Horsfield of England in action during round three of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at Lumine Golf Club on November 13, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

McElroy, 24, was two under after nine but then took six at the 11th before bouncing back with birdies at the 15th and 16th.

“I only missed one green and that was the double. I hit it in the right bunker, and it just trickled in, and I was on the downslope.

“I should have wedged it out, but I hit a five iron with a 40-yard draw and overdid it and went in the water. It wasn't that I was pressing. I could just see the shot. I had to take it up steep and really compress the draw, but I overdid it. 

“I think I'll need five or six-under tomorrow, but it could have been such a low score today. That front nine I might have been five under at worst. I hit a lot of great iron shots, but the putts aren't dropping. I have to go low.”

As for the rest of the 152 survivors, up and coming stars Sam Horsfield and Syme both produced fine performances to put themselves in contention for rookie seasons on the European Tour.

Horsfield carded a 66 on the Hills Course while Syme excelled on the Lakes Course by tying the lowest round of the tournament so far with a fine 63.

The 21-year-old, who qualified for the U.S. Open in 2015 and 2016, sits alongside Ben Evans in second place at the competition’s halfway stage, one shot behind leader Laurie Canter.

With 54 holes left to play the young Englishman knows he still has a lot of work to do if he is to make the European Tour after his first trip to Qualifying School.

“It’s going well so far,” he said. “It’s a marathon, a long old event – I’ve never played a six-round event before – so to think that we don’t have one round to go, we have three rounds to go and are only halfway done, is pretty crazy.

“It’s going to be a good few days I hope. I’m just trying to play each shot at a time, you’ve just got to go out there and play your best and see what happens.

“I only turned professional five months ago. I went to the University of Florida, I did two years there, then I turned pro earlier in the summer – I was born in Manchester but moved to Orlando when I was five.

“It depends on how this week ends up but the plan is to try to come back to Europe now. I’m in a good position with three rounds to go but it’s going to be a long week and a lot of golf ahead.

“I played two U.S. Opens as an amateur, played some PGA Tour events and European Tour tournaments and see how good those guys are. They’ve been great learning experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to have.

“I think I’m ready to match that level. The aim is to get a European Tour card this week and keep improving all the time but I’m going to try not to get ahead of myself and just keep doing what I’m doing.”

Scotland’s Syme,  22, turned professional in September after representing Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup.

“I felt that a good round was coming,” he said after his lowest round as a professional. “I played very well over the first two days but I didn’t get much out of them at all, so it was good to see a few putts dropping today.

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

After 3 rounds

Detailed scores

202 L Canter (Eng) 71 64 67; 

203 S Horsfield (Eng) 69 68 66; B Evans (Eng) 69 66 68; 

204 A Pavan (Ita) 65 68 71; 

206 J Winther (Den) 67 67 72; 

207 M Schwab (Aut) 71 69 67; K Johannessen (Nor) 71 69 67; C Braeunig (Ger) 70 70 67; Ó Serna (Mex) 68 72 67; J Thomson (Eng) 67 72 68; M Foster (Eng) 67 72 68; S Manley (Wal) 69 68 70; 

208 C Syme (Sco) 72 73 63; C Ford (Eng) 73 69 66; C Blomstrand (Swe) 72 69 67; K Broberg (Swe) 70 71 67; Gavin Moynihan (Irl) 69 72 67; J Heath (Eng) 72 68 68; M Baldwin (Eng) 71 69 68; G Stal (Fra) 64 71 73; T Murray (Eng) 70 63 75; 

209 P Widegren (Swe) 69 72 68; J Munro (Aus) 69 71 69; S Heisele (Ger) 72 67 70; H Sturehed (Swe) 67 71 71; R Macintyre (Sco) 67 71 71; 

---Top 25 and ties---

210 J Janewattananond (Tha) 74 71 65; A Michael (RSA) 73 71 66; O Lindell (Fin) 73 71 66; E Park (Kor) 72 72 66; L Gagli (Ita) 71 73 66; S Tiley (Eng) 72 70 68; M Millar (Aus) 74 67 69; J Quesne (Fra) 69 72 69; A Knappe (Ger) 69 72 69; N Geyger (Chi) 67 74 69; C Lloyd (Eng) 68 71 71; C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 69 69 72; 

211 M Iten (Sui) 74 70 67; F Aguilar (Chi) 73 70 68; R McGowan (Eng) 72 71 68; K Samooja (Fin) 73 69 69; G Fernandez - Castaño (Esp) 72 70 69; A Hansen (Den) 71 71 69; J Huldahl (Den) 67 75 69; M Nixon (Eng) 70 71 70; D Law (Sco) 68 73 70; N Kimsey (Eng) 68 73 70; A Arnaus (Esp) 70 70 71; 

212 J Walters (RSA) 75 71 66; T Lewis (Eng) 75 69 68; D Papadatos (Aus) 71 73 68; P Angles (Esp) 73 70 69; M Fenasse (Fra) 73 70 69; A Hall (Aus) 73 69 70; J Kruyswijk (RSA) 71 71 70; J Edfors (Swe) 70 72 70; Å Nilsson (Swe) 71 69 72; P Pittayarat (Tha) 70 70 72; K Koivu (am) (Fin) 70 70 72; 

213 R Kellett (Sco) 77 67 69; E Ferguson (Sco) 74 70 69; S Vincent (Zim) 72 72 69; R Gonzalez (Arg) 71 73 69; M Giles (Aus) 76 66 71; M Schneider (Ger) 68 74 71; E Johansen (Nor) 68 73 72; P Howard (Eng) 73 66 74; S Gros (Fra) 70 69 74; P Mejow (Ger) 69 70 74; J Vecchi Fossa (Ita) 67 71 75; 

---Top 70 and ties---

214 C Nilsson (Swe) 77 70 67; R Petersson (Swe) 73 73 68; H Leon (Chi) 73 72 69; M Lundberg (Swe) 74 70 70; J Rutherford (Eng) 72 72 70; M Lafeber (Ned) 68 73 73; O Wilson (Eng) 67 74 73; J Arnoy (Nor) 70 68 76; 

215 Cormac Sharvin (Nir) 74 74 67; O Gillberg (am) (Swe) 73 75 67; S Henry (Sco) 78 69 68; R Green (Aus) 74 72 69; P Maddy (Eng) 77 68 70; D Huizing (Ned) 73 72 70; J Hansen (Den) 72 73 70; Ruaidhri McGee (Irl) 72 73 70; E De La Riva (Esp) 73 71 71; M Orrin (Eng) 72 72 71; J Geary (Nzl) 72 71 72; L Nemecz (Aut) 70 73 72; J Dean (Eng) 69 74 72; A Blyth (Aus) 71 71 73; 

216 A Garcia-Heredia (Esp) 76 72 68; S Sharma (Ind) 75 73 68; E Di Nitto (Ita) 76 70 70; A Cañizares (Esp) 73 73 70; J Parry (Eng) 70 76 70; T Cocha (Arg) 74 71 71; G Forrest (Sco) 73 72 71; M Lampert (Ger) 73 72 71; M Jonzon (Swe) 72 73 71; J Carlsson (Swe) 76 68 72; T Tree (Eng) 72 72 72; S Khan (Eng) 72 71 73; S Webster (Eng) 69 74 73; M Armitage (Eng) 71 71 74; N Fasth (Swe) 72 69 75; J Veerman (USA) 71 70 75; 

217 F Fritsch (Ger) 75 74 68; S Gregory (Eng) 73 74 70; R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 72 75 70; R Kakko (Fin) 69 78 70; A Haig (RSA) 74 71 72; N Cullen (Aus) 73 72 72; B Easton (RSA) 69 73 75; H Otto (RSA) 70 71 76; 

218 Dermot McElroy (Nir) 74 75 69; J Fernandez-Valdes (Arg) 78 70 70; M Ford (Eng) 74 72 72; R Dinwiddie (Eng) 73 73 72; S Dyson (Eng) 77 68 73; D Foos (Ger) 72 73 73; D Brown (Eng) 71 74 73; C Doak (Sco) 73 71 74; J Lima (Por) 74 69 75; J Brun (Fra) 72 71 75; J Van Der Vaart (Ned) 69 74 75; 

219 D Stewart (Sco) 78 72 69; B Hafthorsson (Isl) 73 72 74; J Sjöholm (Swe) 71 73 75; 

220 M Madsen (Den) 77 73 70; A Rosaye (Fra) 72 77 71; S Soderberg (Swe) 71 75 74; J Stalter (Fra) 70 76 74; 

221 M Trappel (Aut) 73 76 72; R McEvoy (Eng) 70 78 73; R Echenique (Arg) 76 71 74; M Salminen (Fin) 71 72 78; 

222 J Erkenbeck (USA) 73 73 76; F Dreier (Den) 72 74 76; 

223 B Ritthammer (Ger) 82 71 70; L Vaisanen (Fin) 77 74 72; R Enoch (Wal) 74 77 72; S Hutsby (Eng) 74 74 75; 

224 C Del Moral (Esp) 78 76 70; A Meronk (Pol) 79 72 73; M Kim (Kor) 76 74 74; A Rozner (Fra) 69 81 74; T Sinnott (Aus) 74 73 77; 

225 G Porteous (Eng) 78 74 73; 

226 J Jeong (Kor) 76 77 73.