Dermot McElroy will need to produce one of the rounds of his life in order to earn promotion to the Challenge Tour as he dropped further down the leaderboard on day two of the season-ending Matchroom Tour Championship on the PGA EuroPro Tour.
The Ballymena man, who started the tournament with a four-over 76, continued his struggles with a six-over 78 in his second round which leaves him tied-52nd at 10-over with one round to play in which to somehow resurrect his promotion hopes.
Starting the week in fifth in the Order of Merit, with only the top-five earning their Challenge Tour cards for next season, McElroy is currently projected to fall to eighth and likely needs to work his way back into at least the top-four on the leaderboard at Slaley Hall to reclaim his spot.
That will be a very tough ask given fourth is currently four-under, 14 shots above him in the standings, meaning his hopes are hanging by the thinnest of threads, and he will need to go hunting birdies in Friday’s final round of the season.
After putting himself in a bad spot in Wednesday’s opening round, Thursday provided little comfort for McElroy as an opening bogey set the tone for the day and, although he got that shot back at the second, further bogeys dropped at the fourth and fifth.
Unfortunately, the worst of the scoring was still to come on the back nine for the 28-year-old. A double-bogey came at the 12th, which was followed immediately by a birdie, but a string of three consecutive bogeys to close out his round has him staring another year on the satellite tour in the face.
England’s William Harrold is currently projected to jump into the top-five as he sits top of the leaderboard by one shot, his two-under 70 taking him to six-under for the week and a stroke ahead of Dan Brown and first round leader Jack McDonald with just the one day left to play.
With £25,000 on offer to the winner, whoever lifts the trophy this week will also earn automatic promotion to the Challenge Tour, and Harrold – who started the week 31st in the Order of Merit – is set to be the beneficiary after a second round featuring an eagle, two birdies and two bogeys.
Brown is right behind him after his closing birdie allowed him to sign for a one-under 71 to take him to five-under, where McDonald is also situated after a relatively disappointing 72 on day two at Slaley Hall.
Scotland’s Calum Fyfe could do McElroy a favour if he can pick up the win as he positioned himself within striking distance at four-under following a second round 70, although Jamie Rutherford and Matthew Nixon will think similarly at the same score.
Another way the Northern Irishman could slip in is if the players challenging for the top-five spots around him fall away, although his primary rivals Joe Dean and Will Enefer are both holding strong in a tie for seventh at two-under and a tie for ninth at one-under respectively.