Contenders close the gap on McGovern at Q-School
 Brendan McGovern of Ireland drives from the 1st tee during the third round of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Finals played at Vale da Pinta Pestana Golf & Resort on February 1, 2017 in Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal.  Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images

Brendan McGovern of Ireland drives from the 1st tee during the third round of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Finals played at Vale da Pinta Pestana Golf & Resort on February 1, 2017 in Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal.  Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images

Stephen Hamill and Peter Sheehan missed the 54-hole cut as Brendan McGovern’s lead at European Senior Tour Qualifying School final stage was cut to just one stroke heading into the final round at Pestana Golf & Resort.

Just 28 golfers secured their place in Thursday’s final round as the cut for all those within eight shots of fifth place fell at four over.

Lisburn Golf Club professional Hamill missed out by five shots after a fine 69 with Ballybunion amateur Sheehan 10 shots off the pace after his third round 78.

But McGovern remains in front, despite seeing his six-shot halfway lead cut to just one stroke following a two-over par 73 on the Vale da Pinta course in Lagoa.

American Clark Dennis carded the lowest round of this year’s Final Stage, a seven under par 64, to move into solo second place on seven-under with compatriot Barry Conser (69) third on six under and Spain’s José Manuel Carriles, a shot further back in fourth after a 65.

Sharing fifth spot are Jean Pierre Sallat and Gary Rusnak, however, with just five cards available for the 2017 Senior Tour season, a play-off will take place if there is a tie for fifth place at the conclusion of the final round.

McGovern remained in a positive mood after maintaining his position at the top of the leaderboard.

“I hit a couple of loose shots on the front nine, and paid the penalty for that,” said the 51-year-old Headfort professional.

“But I know I’m playing okay, so even though I was dropping a couple of shots there was room to come back.

“I had a good run at the start of the back nine and made three back fairly quickly.

"The way the course is playing, you have par fives that are reachable and you have to make fours on them – if you’re not making them, half the field are.

"I’m still happy. It’s better to be in the lead than go into the final day behind. But tomorrow is a new day.”

Mark Davis, winner of the 2014 Scottish Senior Open, carded a six under par 65 to move to three under par overall and into a share of seventh place after three rounds.

“The third round is a good day to go out there and shoot a score like that,” said the two-time European Tour winner. 

“I played solidly today, even with two three-putts out there.It all came together today. There were a few nerves at the start but that’s a good thing I think, getting the adrenaline going.

“Hopefully I’ll go out there and shoot a good score tomorrow. Then we’ll see what happens.”

History was made on the Senior Tour as South Africa’s Callie Swart became the first person to score holes-in-one in consecutive rounds.

In the second round, he aced the third hole from 140 yards with a nine-iron, and then made a hole-in-one on the par-three ninth hole, this time with an eight iron from 167 yards.

“In 2007 I had one at a tournament and I hadn’t had another until yesterday,” said Swart. “I’m battling with my putting at the moment. I hit most of the greens in regulation and then two-putted.

"We joked before the shot on the ninth that we should get the ball in the hole because all of us we’re missing our putts – then I made it again.

“Hopefully something will happen tomorrow – maybe another hole-in-one, but it could get expensive.”

Scores after round three, Par 71

205 B McGovern (Irl) 66 66 73,

206 C Dennis (USA) 70 72 64, 

207 B Conser (USA) 71 67 69, 

208 J Carriles (Esp) 73 70 65,

209 G Rusnak (USA) 68 71 70, J Sallat (Fra) 72 68 69,

210 M Davis (Eng) 71 74 65, P Wilson (Eng) 66 75 69,

211 J Hall (Eng) 70 72 69, D Shacklady (Eng) 70 70 71, C Hunsucker (USA) 69 69 73, J Cheetham (Eng) 74 68 69, 

212 M Wharton (Eng) 71 70 71, J Carter (USA) 71 71 70,

213 P Streeter (Eng) 72 71 70,

214 D Wettlaufer (Can) 70 76 68, J Romero (Esp) 72 69 73,

215 C Swart (RSA) 73 72 70, S McNally (Eng) 72 69 74,

216 J Berendt (Arg) 74 71 71, J Steenkamer (Ned) 70 75 71, Y Nilsson (Swe) 72 71 73, J Bevan (Eng) 69 75 72, T Spence (Eng) 71 71 74, A Fernandez (Chi) 72 72 72,

217 W Bladon (Eng) 77 70 70, F Mann (Sco) 73 76 68, G Wall (Aus) 73 73 71,

CUT

218 S Cipa (Eng) 76 70 72, A Sherborne (Eng) 75 71 72, J Kula (Fra) 71 77 70, F Grosset-Grange (Fra) 72 75 71, M Molina (Arg) 71 74 73,

219 K Tenmark (Swe) 69 77 73, 

220 G Ryall (Eng) 72 75 73, W Grant (Eng) 74 74 72, M Booth (Eng) 75 75 70, 

221 S Bennett (Eng) 73 78 70, M Kierstenson (Eng) 74 75 72, K Tarling (Can) 72 75 74, N Sweet (Eng) 71 75 75, S Jensen (am) (Eng) 68 76 77, 

222 M Spooner (Eng) 77 73 72, M Reynard (Eng) 77 73 72, R Sabarros (Fra) 74 76 72, M Wiggett (Eng) 73 73 76, Stephen Hamill (Nir) 76 77 69, 

223 G Joyner (Aus) 72 75 76, P Affleck (Wal) 77 76 70,

224 J Quiros (Esp) 76 74 74, N Mitchell (Eng) 76 76 72, D Westermark (Swe) 73 75 76, S Puzey (USA) 75 78 71, T Elliott (Aus) 75 76 73, K Hutton (Sco) 77 77 70, B Smith (am) (Eng) 76 72 76, P Scarrett (am) (Eng) 71 79 74,

225 D Narveson (USA) 72 75 78, M Haddock (am) (Eng) 74 75 76,

226 M Nichols (Eng) 79 69 78, 

227 T Giles (Eng) 73 78 76, J Buendia (Esp) 72 79 76, Peter Sheehan (am) (Irl) 74 75 78,

228 B White (Eng) 75 75 78, M Pyatt (Eng) 76 79 73, T Persson (am) (Swe) 76 75 77, 

230 M Macara (Wal) 79 77 74, J Binch (am) (Eng) 76 79 75, 

231 G Harris (Eng) 80 77 74, R Scheffer (Ned) 75 80 76, 

234 D Shaw (USA) 78 78 78,

236 G Banister (Aus) 76 79 81, 

243 M Gallagher (Eng) 81 77 85,

** C Baron (Eng) 76 77 WD, 

** A Franco (Par) 80 RT 0, R Gonzalez (Arg) WD.