Conor Purcell is the best placed of the Irish challenge in the Second Stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School but all three players have work to do at the halfway stage of their respective qualifiers.
At the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Dothan, Alabama, Purcell sits tied-29th at two-under at the midpoint of the qualifier, while Antrim’s Tom McKibbin is tied for 42nd at level-par.
Meanwhile, at Plantation Reserve Golf Club in Plantation, Florida, Paul McBride will need to pick up the pace in his final two rounds to make the cut as he sits tied-69th at six-over after an horrendous stretch of three holes in a very tough second round.
With only the top-20 plus qualifiers making it through to next month’s Final Stage from both qualifiers, all three know they are on the outside looking in, but none of them are so far adrift that they will consider themselves out of the running.
For Purcell in particular, after a disappointing one-over 73 in his opening round, he responded with a much better three-under 69 on day two to sit just one shot off the three-under cut mark.
The Dubliner will be hugely encouraged that he found eight birdies in his second round and will be confident he can cut out the mistakes moving forward in order to move himself up the leaderboard in the final two rounds.
Starting at the 10th in Alabama, Purcell started with back-to-back birdies and added another at the 14th in a promising start, although he dropped his first stroke at the 15th before a birdie at the 17th was undone by a double-bogey at 18 and another bogey at the first.
But the former Walker Cup man responded well with birdies the second and third, as well as back-to-back birdies to close his round – after a bogey at the seventh – to move himself right into contention at the halfway stage.
McKibbin is also in the mix, too, although he has more ground to make up after following an opening one-over 73 with a more promising one-under 71 in his second round.
The Holywood teen – who also started at the 10th – had also birdied his opening hole before two dropped shots came at the 11th and 13th, although he made the turn level with a birdie on 15.
But the 18-year-old would finish his round in the red after birdies on the fifth and ninth, around a bogey at the sixth, for a solid round that will also have him confident he can make a push in the latter half of the qualifier, particularly after his strong performance in the First Stage.
Three players lead the way in Alabama at nine-under, including 2019 US Amateur champion Andy Ogletree alongside Blake Dyer and Mark Lawrence Jr, while others inside the three-under cut mark include Blayne Barber (-8), Chase Parker (-5), Josh Teater (-4) and 2019 US Amateur runner-up John Augenstein (-3).
Meanwhile, in Florida, it was a day to forget for McBride as he followed up a solid one-under opening round with a brutal seven-over 78 in his second round to fall well off the pace at Plantation Reserve.
The Dubliner had been cancelled out an early bogey at the third with a birdie on the fifth, but the wheels came off dramatically in his final three holes of his front nine as he went triple-bogey, bogey, double-bogey to drop six shots in one fell swoop.
After that bitter blow it was always going to be hard for McBride to recover and so it proved, the 26-year-old dropping two more shots on his way back to the clubhouse and only able to card one more birdie to finish with a 78 that has him 10 strokes back of the four-under cut mark.
It will need a monumental effort from McBride to make it, but he can fall back on his solid round on Tuesday, plus an approach that he has nothing to lose down in 69th heading into the final two days.
At the top, Florida native Steve LeBrun holds a one-shot lead after back-to-back rounds of 67 has him at 10-under for the week, while the likes of Jason Scrivener (-7), Marcelo Rozo, Steve Marino, Brett Stegmaier and Dylan Meyer (all -4) are inside the cut.
In Alabama, Purcell begins his third round at 1:21pm Irish time, with McKibbin off at 12:48pm from the 10th tee. In Florida, McBride is also off from the 10th tee on Thursday at 3:15pm.