11 professionals and one amateur make up this year’s class of Irish contenders at Stage Two of European Tour Qualifying School in Spain.
For many, end of year examinations can create sleepless nights and merciless anxiety but for Ireland’s dozen hopefuls, this week across four venues in Spain, opportunity knocks as they look to take the next step towards European Tour careers.
At Alenda Golf in Alicante, Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney leads a four-strong charge with Shannon’s Daniel Brennan, Kilkenny’s Luke Donnelly and Galway amateur, Ronan Mullarney all taking their chance.
Kearney enjoyed a top-25 finish last week in Spain at the EuroPro Tour Championship where a final round 74 took the gloss off an otherwise encouraging week. Although there’s no cut in operation at Stage Two, stringing four rounds together will prove essential in securing a spot at Final Stage on November 15.
Also coming in off EuroPro Tour duty is Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell who will have to put the disappointment of falling short of his Challenge Tour card behind him when he turns to Plan B at Club de Bonmont, Tarragona.
The Northern Irishman had occupied one of the five Challenge Tour spots on offer on the season long Road to Desert Springs before a final round of 80 at the Tour Championship saw him miss out on graduation by a little under £350.
Challenge Tour regulars, Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee and Tramore’s Robin Dawson also take their chance at Bonmont alongside Tyler Hogarty.
Perhaps the form man of Ireland’s travelling 12-pack is Castleknock’s David Carey who leads a solo charge at Desert Springs. In a year that included a maiden professional win on the Alps Tour and a record-breaking round of 57, the Dubliner is high on confidence having set the standard in Stage One at Bogogno.
Las Colinas hosts the fourth and last staging of this year’s Second phase of competitions where five-time European Tour winner, Michael Hoey will attempt to rediscover his form of the spring just in time to mount a challenge at the toughest examination in golf.
Joining the experienced campaigner will be Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith who, like Kearney, also enjoyed a top-25 finish last week in Spain on EuroPro duty while Naas professional, Conor O’Rourke will look to put an injury-hit season behind him when he tees up for a spot at the Q-School finale.
Class resumes on Thursday when all four competitions will be played concurrently over 72 holes and four days. With no cut in operation, 331 players, a field of 82 or 83 at each site will vie for their place at Lumine from November 15-20 where 156 players will compete over six rounds in a bid to secure one of 25 precious European Tour cards.