Seamus Power and Graeme McDowell got off to a fast starts in their bid for a Masters spot when they opened with three-under 69’s in the Valero Texas Open.
Like Pádraig Harrington, who was tied for 74th after an opening 72, they must win to secure the last invitation for Augusta National next week and they were well-placed, tied for 17th just three shots behind Si Woo Kim, who carded a six-under 66 to lead by a shot from JT Poston, Brian Stuard, Abraham Ancer and Jhonattan Vegas.
Both McDowell and Power posted bogey-free rounds as Kim made eight birdies and two bogeys in his 66. Scores
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's Cormac Sharvin and Michael Hoey started well in the innovative Jordan Mixed Open at Ayla where Challenge Tour, Staysure Tour and Ladies European Tour players are playing a mixed 54-hole event. Scores
Sharvin fired a four-under 68 to share 11th place, four strokes behind the Netherlands' Daan Huizing, who leads by one stroke from England;'s Meghan MacLaren and Jack Senior.
Hoey was tied 18th after a 69 with Portmarnock Links' Robin Dawson tied 96th after a 75 with only the top 60 and ties qualifying for tomorrow's final round.
Staysure Tour regular Brendan McGovern will struggle to make it after he made a septuple-bogey 11 at the 363-yard 15th in a 10-over 82.
Hickey tops at Europro Tour Qualifier
On the PGA Europro Tour, Cork's John Hickey (26) cruised into the Final Stage of the Qualifying School when he topped the leaderboard in his First Stage qualifier at Macdonald Portal Hotel & Spa in Tarporley where there was early frost.
He shot rounds of 66 and 74 to tie with England's Gian-Marco Petrozzi on six-under with Naas Conor O'Rourke, who shot a brilliant, four-under 69 his final round, third, two shots further back.
He joins Michael Dallat, Stephen Grant, Cameron Raymond and Daniel Brennan also made it through to join Declan Loftus, Stephen McCarthy and Peter Williamson at Frilford Heath from April 16-18.
Hickey said: “I was about halfway through my warm up when I got my text basically when I got there it was just about trying to deal with the conditions the best I could. And try and play the steady golf as possible try not to try and do anything crazy, play lots of pars.
“I’m looking forward to Frilford. I’ve played one of the courses there and I think it’s very good. In terms of my preparation, I’ve been doing a lot of work on all parts of my game over winter and it’s just the case of continuing that work. Trying to stay as sharp as I can and bring some momentum from this week.”
Raymond made it after an eight-man playoff for seven spots on six-over at Macdonald Portal.
All those progressing to Final Stage will earn at least a category 14, with golfers making the Final Stage cut earning a minimum category 10 and the top 30 earning category 3.
Caversham Heath Results
Donnington Grove Results
Macdonald Portal Results
Studley Wood Results
Macdonald Cardrona Rescheduled April 10