Six Irish set for toughest examination in golf

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Gavin Moynihan (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

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Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan join a quartet of Irish qualifiers from Second Stage as the Final Q-School examination of 2019 decides the fate of 25 European Tour cards for next season.

Lumine Golf Club, which has held the previous two Final Stage events, will return for a third stint as host of the Qualifying School Finale from Friday, November 15-20 where 156 players will compete over the traditional six-round format in a bid to secure a full-time ticket to the European Tour.

Jonathan Caldwell, Robin Dawson, Niall Kearney and Michael Hoey booked their place in the Final Stage field after coming through phase two that was contested across four venues in Spain.

Clandeboye’s Caldwell put the disappointment of coming up just short of a Challenge Tour card at the EuroPro Tour’s Grand Final behind him to coast into Friday’s starting six-round decider having finished third at Club de Bonmont.

At the same venue, Dawson was teetering on the mark dangerously when a 16th hole bogey put him over par for the round but he bounced back brilliantly, eagling the 17th before parring the last for a round of 71 and a four-under par total, good enough for a tie for 12th and safe passage into Final Stage.

With weather forcing a Monday finish at Bonmont, Las Colinas proved a happy hunting ground for five-time European Tour winner, Hoey who safely advanced on Sunday with an extra day’s rest banked ahead of want he hopes will be 108 holes of golf starting Friday.

While at Alenda Golf, Royal Dublin’s Kearney was the sole Irish survivor from a quarter of hopefuls battered by the wind all week in Alicante; the experienced Dubliner enduring an uncomfortable run to the clubhouse, dropping three shots in four holes from the 13th before grinding out two crucial pars that got him over the line and into Friday’s draw.

Where the quartet from Second Stage will have somewhat acclimatised to the melting pot that is Q-School, Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan have earned the privilege of being dropped right into the steaming hot cauldron of Final Stage after giving up their Main Tour playing rights this year.

Moynihan tuned up last week at the Taylormade Winter Series where, with the help of a new pre-shot routine, he navigated his way around Portmarnock Links in 67 strokes.

He then swapped out Ireland’s sodden fairways for warmer climates, taking advantage of top-class facilities at Portugal’s Monte Rei resort. The Mount Juliet touring pro goes into this week knowing exactly what’s required having come through Final Stage at Lumine 12 months ago with a Main Tour card in his pocket, so his preparation is worth noting.

Dunne meanwhile has the comfort of conditional status that should guarantee him about 15 starts on the Tour next season regardless of how his week in the sun pans out at Lumine.

After missing 12 of his last 14 cuts, the Greystones golfer could hardly be arriving in worse form but then again, the only way is up for the 26-year old who arguably needs this week less than others, a mindset that could play to his advantage over the six-round slog.





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