Q-School: Sharvin blasts 64 to make Finals; McElroy also through
Cormac Sharvin. Picture: Jimmy Penrose

Cormac Sharvin. Picture: Jimmy Penrose

Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin insists he'll be going "hell for leather" for his card now after he blasted nine birdies in a sensational closing 64 — eight of them coming in a magical 11-hole spell — to qualify for Final Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School later this week.

The 25-year-old Co Down man will be joined at Lumine Golf Club for the 108-hole finale by the exempt Gavin Moynihan and Ballymena's Dermot McElroy, who also qualified via the Second Stage on Monday.

"I was well back after the first couple of rounds this week, but I felt it was only a matter of time before I shot six or seven-under," said Sharvin, who was eight under par after 13 holes despite missing five makeable birdie putts in the 10-15ft range at Desert Springs in Almería, one of four Second Stage venues.

"There couldn't be a better time to play well. With my Challenge Tour card sewn up after finishing fourth in my last event in Ras Al Khaimah, I can go at it hell for leather at the Final Stage now and see if I can get on the European Tour." 

Derry's Ruaidhri McGee, West Waterford's Gary Hurley and Castleknock native David Carey will not know their fate until after Tuesday's final round of the wind-delayed Second Stage qualifier at Panoramica in Castellón.

As things stand, McGee is well placed to progress after he shot a 69 in round three to share third place in the race for just 21 places (no ties) but Hurley (tied 33rd after a 74) and Carey (tied 57th after a 75) need to go as deep as they can.

It promises to be a nerve-wracking day for all three if the performances of the other eight Irish golfers who teed it up at the Second Stage are any indication.

Clandeboye's Jonny Caldwell, his Challenge Tour card already secure thanks to his fifth-place finish on the Europro Tour money list, double bogeyed his penultimate hole at Desert Springs to finish a shot outside the qualifying spots on seven-under despite closing with a 68.

McElroy shot 74 and only just made it on level par at El Saler, one shot inside the magic number.

The way I am playing, I am only growing in confidence
— Cormac Sharvin

It didn't quite work out for Narin & Portnoo's Brendan McCarroll. who battled back bravely from an opening 77 to put himself in position only to drop four shots in his last five holes at the Valencia venue to card a 78 and miss out by five strokes.

There was no luck either for the three Irish in action at Las Colinas in Alicante where just 21 of the 29 players who finished on three under made it through after a 10-man playoff was required to decide the last two spots.

Knock's Colin Fairweather was sitting on the cut-off mark after 54 holes but finished double-bogey, bogey for a 73 to come up one stroke short as with Michael Hoey (three-over) and John Ross Galbraith (11-over) finished well off the pace.

McGee, Hurley and Carey will be hoping to follow in Sharvin's footsteps after the 25-year-old's final round exhibition at Desert Springs.

The 2015 Walker Cup player arrived in Almería with a wet sail after his crucial T4 finish in the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge boosted him to 68th in the rankings, securing his 2018 Challenge Tour card via the top 70 at the very last gasp.

Struggling with his swing all season, his decision to turn to Shropshire based coach David Welch three weeks ago proved to be an inspired decision and he headed for Spain "flushing it."

Even then, he needed an epic final round to make it to the Final Stage.

"It was frustrating for the first three days," Sharvin said as he drove north to Lumine in Tarragona to prepare for six-round battle to finish inside the top 25 and ties at the Final Stage, which begins on Saturday. 

"I shot a three under 69 the first day and it couldn't have been any more frustrating. 

"The second day, I somehow managed to shoot a one-over 73 after making a nightmare quadruple bogey eight on my 10th hole. 

"I was three-under through the turn at the time and I thought I'd lost my tee shot on the 10th, so I had to go back to the tee to hit another ball. 

"But it turned out that my first ball had kicked out of the hazard into the middle of the fairway, so that put me on the back foot and I hadn't really done anything wrong. 

"Then in round three I made some good par saves on the way in for a 71 but I was T32 [two shots outside the top 22] and basically said, 'Let's go out and shoot 65 tomorrow.' 

"I managed to shoot one better."

One of five Irishmen on the 2015 Walker Cup sided with Moynihan, Hurley, Jack Hume and Paul Dunne, Sharvin showed his class in a final round and might have gone even lower had he not missed five birdie chances inside 10 feet.

Starting on the back nine, he made a 20 footer at the 12th then saw his approach hop into the hole and out again at the 15th, leaving him an easy birdie putt.

He then hit a five-iron to six feet at the 16th and wedged close at the 17th for his third birdie in a row to go four-under for the round.

But he was only getting started.

"I chipped in for birdie on the first, holed from 15 ft on two, should have birdied three, chipped in on four — two chip-ins helped — bogeyed eight and then holed a nice one on nine from 14 ft," Sharvin said.

With his Challenge Tour card already in his pocket, he's on a shot to nothing now.

"There is no reason why I can't go there and win," he said of the Final Stage. "The way I am playing. I am only growing in confidence and there is no reason why I can't go there and shoot six rounds in the 60s. 

"It hasn't been the best year but the last month, I feel my game is ready. It was nice to get over the line, just when I needed to.

"Last week gave me a bit of confidence in my game. I have been struggling with my swing throughout the year, so I brought a technical coach on board about three weeks ago — Michael Welch — and I've been flushing it."

As for the Final Stage, he's hoping the reports he's heard about the venue are accurate.

"I've never been to Lumine but I've been told it should suit me," Sharvin said. 

"There were only three drivers at Desert Springs, and I had been driving the ball so well. We were hitting six irons off tees at times but when I got the driver in my hands, I was able to flush it straight down the middle. 

"There will be more drivers at Final Stage so it might play more into my hands and I will be able to play the course the way I like to play."

Timing is everything in golf and Sharvin has picked the perfect time to find his groove.

European Tour - Second Qualifying Stage, November 3-6

Desert Springs Golf Club, Almería (22 of 23 qualified on -8/280 after playoff)

  • T7 SHARVIN, Cormac -11 69 73 71 64 277 QUALIFIED
  • T24 CALDWELL, Jonathan -7 68 71 74 68 281 DID NOT QUALIFY
  • WD KEARNEY, Niall +9 74 70 81 WD 225 

Campo de Golf El Saler, Valencia (21 of 22 qualified on +1/289)

T13 McELROY, Dermot Par 70 73 71 74 288 QUALIFIED
T36 McCARROLL, Brendan +6 77 71 68 78 294 DID NOT QUALIFY

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club, Alicante - (21 of 29 qualified on -3/281 )


  • T30 FAIRWEATHER, Colin -2 73 66 70 73 282 DID NOT QUALIFY
  • T46 HOEY, Michael +3 69 72 73 73 287 DID NOT QUALIFY
  • 60 GALBRAITH, JR +11 68 75 77 75 295 DID NOT QUALIFY

Panoramica Golf & Sport Resort, Castellón - (Final round Tuesday, 21 to qualify, currently -8 or better)


  • T3 MCGEE, Ruaidhri -11 69 67 69 205 TBC
  • T33 HURLEY, Gary -4 68 70 74 212 TBC
  • T57 CAREY, David Par 68 73 75 216 TBC