There was joy for some and heartbreak for others as the First Stage of Qualifying School drew to a close at Frilford Heath. When it was all said and done, a total of six Irish protagonists progressed to Stage two in November from the 20 that started the most strenuous exam in golf. Niall Kearney / Image from Golffile Of today’s qualifiers, Niall Kearney was the pick of the emerald bunch after he fired a second successive 69 to breeze through assignment one in a tie for 5th place on four under par. An eagle three at the par-5 6th was the highlight of a day that included four birdies and three dropped shots. Joining Kearney in a tie for 5th and safely through to the November knockouts was Knock’s Colin Fairweather, who carded a level par 72 for the second day in a row to cement his place at the right end of the leaderboard. Fairweather also eagled the 6th after starting with two bogeys in his first five holes, but ultimately came home comfortably inside the mark. Dermot McElroy carded a second successive one under par round of 71 to ensure he joined the pair in November’s second stage with a three under par total good enough for a tie in 10th and a precious pass. The big loser on the day however, was Naas’ Conor O’Rourke, who agonisingly missed out on a place inside the top-20 by a single stroke. His one over par round of 73 might haunt him for the next few weeks, but there’s no doubt Conor has what it takes to bounce bank having only started his fledgling journey in the pro game. Chris Selfridge joined him in bowing out having given himself too much to do in a slow start to the competition. For the thrilled trio, they will join Nairn and Portnoo man, Brendan McCarroll and David Carey who qualified at Ribagolfe last month, as well as John Ross Galbraith who cruised through at Stage One qualifying at Roxburghe in Scotland. It’s only the beginning of the road for Ireland’s hopefuls, and the hard work starts here as they say, but with the carrot of European Tour status dangling before them, the hard work will be well worth it should any of them go all the way. Go n-éirí an bóthar leat lads
Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Irish Golfer news straight to your inbox!