Mullarney and McCarroll start well at Q-School; Sharvin eyes Headfort chance
Ronan Mullarney (Ireland) driving at the second tee watched by Harry Hall (England) during day two of the 2019 Home International Matches at Lahinch Golf Club. Picture by  Pat Cashman

Ronan Mullarney (Ireland) driving at the second tee watched by Harry Hall (England) during day two of the 2019 Home International Matches at Lahinch Golf Club. Picture by Pat Cashman

Galway amateur Ronan Mullarney is tied for third after opening with a two-under 70 at the First Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School Section E in Portugal.

The reigning AIG Irish Amateur Close champion is just four shots behind leader Garrick Higgo with Donegal’s Brendan McCarroll 26th after a 74 at Bom Sucesso.

At Golf d’Hardelot, Killiney’s Eoin Leonard was 61st after a three-over 74 as Mount Juliet's Stephen Grant shot 80.

As Seamus Power bids to get his PGA Tour season up and running at the Houston Open, 15 Irishmen tee it up in the €200,000 Stone Irish Challenge at Headfort.

Eighth-ranked Cormac Sharvin has all but locked up one of 15 European Tour cards awarded to the leading money winners at the end of the season.

But after recording five top-five finishes and seven top-tens from just 14 Challenge Tour starts, he's still seeking his maiden win.

“There are a lot of things that have to fall into place to win, but I feel like I've been putting myself in position quite a lot and hopefully I can get across the line at some stage in the near future," Sharvin said.

”Obviously to do it in Ireland would be unbelievable, but I'm not going to get ahead of myself either."

Paul McBride. Picture Golffile

Paul McBride. Picture Golffile

Paul McBride is one of five Team Ireland Golf stars among the 15-strong Irish entry.

It's a big week for the man from The Island and the rest of the Team Ireland Golf quintet who have received invitations from the Confederation of Golf in Ireland.

Like Ballymena's Dermot McElroy, Naas' Conor O'Rourke, Whitehead's John Ross Galbraith and Tullamore's Stuart Grehan he will be looking to grab a big opportunity with both hands after he missed the cut at the First Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.

It’s a chance for him to improve his Challenge Tour ranking and play more events next season. 

But it's also an opportunity to put into practice the mental skills he's been honing with his coach Neil Manchip, whose work in that area with Shane Lowry paid such dividends this year.

“Ninety per cent of the work we do is on the mental approach to the game," said McBride, who turns 24 next week and freely admits that his putting needs to improve.

“I have all the skills, but it is being able to use them correctly when I am out there and mentally trying to be as committed as possible.

"Neil is not one of those fellas that is going to get you to start doing weird stuff with your swing because he knows golf is a performance-based sport.

”It is not how your swing looks, it's how many shots you take, and the best players in the world are mentally phenomenal."

“When you look at Brooks Koepka, he looks borderline machine like - he plays so freely out there. That's what everyone strives for.”