The three Irishmen in the running at Korn Ferry Tour Q-School will need to produce big final rounds in their Second Stage qualifiers if they wish to keep their hopes alive of making it through to the Final Stage.
McKibbin, Purcell & McBride face uphill struggle to make Korn Ferry final stage
Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin is the best placed of the trio but that is still currently four shots off the top-20 cut at the qualifier in Dothan, Alabama, with Conor Purcell a further two shots back in his own bid.
Meanwhile, at the other qualifier in Plantation, Florida, Paul McBride’s race looks run as he starts the final round needing to claw back a massive 17 strokes just to bring himself back to the current cut mark if he wants to progress.
In Alabama, McKibbin has kept himself just within touching distance with one round to play at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail after a second consecutive one-under 71 took him to one-under for the week, with the cut sitting at five-under currently.
After bogeying his opening hole of the day, starting at the 10th, the 18-year-old pulled out two birdies in his final two holes of his opening nine, although he could only cancel out one birdie at the third with a bogey at the fifth to stay at one-under.
However, it will need to be a big final day for Purcell, whose three-over 75 on day three has him back at one-over for the tournament and needing to make a big move on Friday.
The damage was done on the back nine, the Dubliner carding a birdie on the eighth and a bogey on the ninth, before further dropped shots followed at the 13th, 14th and, most frustratingly, the 18th to drop him down the leaderboard to a tie for 55th.
Georgia’s Spencer Ralston recorded a 66 on Thursday to take the lead in the qualifier at 13-under, one shot ahead of Blayne Barber and Mark Lawrence Jr.
Notable players inside the cut mark with one round to play include 2019 US Amateur champion Andy Ogletree (-11) and runner-up John Augenstein (-9), as well as Chase Parker (-6) and Josh Teater (-5).
Meanwhile, at Plantation Preserve, McBride could produce a round in the 50s and would probably still need luck from elsewhere to crack the top-20 after his three-over 74 in his third round took him to nine-over for the week and 17 shots back of the cut mark.
The Dublin man, who started his round at the 10th, carded three bogeys at the 15th, second and fourth before finally getting a birdie on the board at the fifth, but he immediately undid that good work by double-bogeying the seventh, although he did finish nicely with a birdie at the ninth.
That has him a long way adrift of the required mark and, unfortunately, barring a round for the ages it appears his Korn Ferry Tour dream is over for this year.
Florida’s Luis Gagne looks to have already rubber-stamped his place in the Final Stage after his excellent seven-under 64 took him five shots clear at the top of the leaderboard at 16-under for the week, eight shots ahead of the cut mark.
Other notable names progressing from Florida as it stands include Jason Scrivener (-9), Steve Marino and Brett Stegmaier (both -8).
McKibbin will get his final round under way at 12:59pm Irish time in Alabama, while Purcell tees off on the 10th at 1:43pm. In Florida, McBride begins his final round from the 10th tee at 3:25pm.
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