Ireland’s Alps Tour contingent will all have work to do at the Final Stage of Q-School if they are to earn full playing status for next season after a mixed opening round in Rome.
Only the top-35 in Italy will receive a full Tour card for next season and after the first round, only three players – James Sugrue, Michael Young and Simon Bryan – are tied at that mark.
The trio are tied-32nd at one-over, with the remaining four local players in action all further down the leaderboard after a disappointing opening day at Terre dei Consoli and Golf Nazionale just outside the Italian capital.
Luke Donnelly, who finished top of last week’s First Stage qualifier, is one shot further back at two-over and in a tie for 50th, with Marc Boucher four-over, Conor Coyne six-over and Robin Dawson seven-over.
With only the top-65 qualifying for Friday’s final round, which will be played at Golf Nazionale, that means the latter three players need to produce a big second round to make the cut – which currently sits at two-over – and keep their hopes alive.
Missing the cut would give those players Category 9 membership, which entitles them to only limited starts on Tour, while any player who makes the second round cut would earn at least Category 8 membership, which would add a couple more starts.
But, of course, all seven players will still be aiming for the full Category 6 membership on offer for the top-35, however some will have more work to do than others to make that dream a reality.
Sugrue, Bryan and Young are the best placed to do so after each carded rounds of 73 that featured varying degrees of excitement.
Young’s, for instance, featured just two birdies and three bogeys. Sugrue had four bogeys and a double, to go with five birdies. Bryan will probably be most disappointed of all as he finished with back-to-back bogeys in a round that, altogether, contained five bogeys, two birdies and an eagle.
With exactly 35 players earning their cards, all three will hope to avoid going into a play-off by pushing their way up the leaderboard over the next two days, but all three should be happy enough with their positive starts.
Further down the leaderboard, Donnelly may be a little frustrated he only made one birdie in his first round, but just three bogeys has him on track to qualify for the final round and he will be confident that the top-35 is not out of reach for him.
But those below that mark will need to find something special on day two to keep their own chances alive.
Boucher perhaps will be the most confident he can claw it back as three consecutive bogeys on his back nine led to a 76. Cut those out and he would have been alongside the leading Irish trio at one-over and in with a strong shout, and he will be eager to make up for those mistakes in his second round.
But Coyne, who had seven bogeys and just one birdie in a 78, and Dawson, five bogeys, two doubles and two birdies in a 79, know only a big Thursday performance will have them on the tee sheet for Friday.
French amateur Oihan Guillamondelguy is out in front on his own at the top after a bogey-free six-under 66, with fellow French amateur Martin Couvra, Italy’s Alessandro Notaro and Spanish amateur Jose Manuel Pardo Benitez one shot further back after 67s.
- Full scoring HERE
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