David Carey is well-placed to earn himself a Challenge Tour card for next season as a birdie-eagle finish helped him move into second place with one round to play at the Alps Tour Grand Final, two off the lead in Italy.
The Castleknock man shot a second consecutive five-under 67 at Modena Country Club to move onto 10-under, backed by his superb closing stretch, a couple of strokes back of leader Victor Garcia Broto and firmly into the mix for automatic promotion to the second-tier next year.
Currently 15th in the Alps Tour’s Order of Merit, Carey needs to break into the top-10 in order to earn himself an exemption through the Second Stage of Challenge Tour Q-School, which would also earn him a small handful of Challenge Tour starts next year.
But he will have his sights set higher, however, and a win in Italy would be enough to get him into the top-five in the Order of Merit and allow him to skip Q-School and earn full Challenge Tour membership next season.
Carey is well placed to do just that as he sits tied-second alongside home hopeful Carlo Casalegno with one round to play in Modena, with Garcia Broto – another who could earn his Challenge Tour card this week – two ahead at 12-under.
The Irishman’s challenge had looked to have faded somewhat after bogeys at the fourth and eighth undid birdies at the first and seventh, which had him level-par at the turn and falling off the lead, but it was a superb back nine that turned things around.
Birdies dropped on the 13th and 14th which picked up some momentum before a sparkling finish saw him birdie the 17th and then eagle the par-five 18th to move him right into contention to assault the leader in Saturday’s final round.
Ahead of him, Spaniard Garcia Broto backed up a stunning 64 in Thursday’s opening round with a 68 that included five birdies and a bogey on Friday to open up a slender advantage, while Casalegno also impressed with a bogey-free 66 on day two.
Also working in Carey’s favour is that French amateur Paul Margolis, who is fifth in the Order of Merit, is down in 20th at four-under following a 68, while Scotland’s Ryan Lumsden and Spain’s Angel Hidalgo Portillo are not competing despite being in the top-three.
Italy’s Jacopo Vecchi Fossa, who is already secure in the knowledge he has won the Order of Merit already, is tied-eighth at six-under after a second round 67.
It was an excellent day for another of the Irishmen in the field as Naas’ Jonathan Yates went low with a 65 to take him up to a share of sixth at eight-under, while West Waterford’s Gary Hurley carded a 69 to sit tied-22nd at three-under.
At 42nd in the overall rankings, Yates would likely need a spectacular come-from-behind win to stand any chance of breaking into the top-10 in the Order of Merit just to get that exemption into the Final Stage of Q-School, but that will be a strong incentive nonetheless.
Overnight leader Gregorio de Leo had a disappointing second round, a one-under 71 dropping him down into a tie for fourth at nine-under alongside fellow Italian Alessandro Tadini, followed closely by Yates and Andrea Saracino one shot further back.
- Full scoring HERE