What started off as 21 Irish hopefuls chasing European Tour cards for the 2018 season has been whittled down to four.
Cormac Sharvin, Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy and Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee all qualified through stage 2 and are joined by Gavin Moynihan after his Challenge Tour season got him automatically into this week’s final stage.
An eye-catching collection of seasoned professionals and young hopefuls have assembled at Lumine Golf Club all bidding to earn European Tour cards at the Final Stage of Qualifying School.
The top 25 and ties will play in next season’s Race to Dubai after a marathon six rounds in Tarragona, with Lumine’s Lakes and Hills courses playing host to the tournament for the first time having previously been a Second Stage venue.
No fewer than 30 European Tour winners are in the 156-man field this week, led by Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño’s haul of seven titles – a figure matched by the Spaniard’s caddie for the tournament, Alvaro Quiros.
Experienced campaigners such as Simon Dyson, Anders Hansen and Niclas Fasth – one of two former Ryder Cup players in the field along with Oliver Wilson – are hoping to prolong their careers at the top of the European game.
After a successful season on the Challenge Tour, Gavin Moynihan is looking forward to another tilt at getting a full card after falling just shy of the 15 qualifiers from this seasons Race to Oman.
“I’m looking forward to this week” said Moynihan. “I’ve had a break off after the Challenge Tour season and I’m feeling fresh.
“Considering it’s Final Stage, it’s a pretty relaxed week for me this week. The ranking I have from the Challenge Tour will give me a good number of European Tour starts anyway, so I can just go for it this week – if I play well, great, if I don’t it’s not the end of the world for me.
“I might take a few drivers when I normally wouldn’t, go after a few pins when I wouldn’t in a normal 72-hole tournament, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I started the year with nothing, absolutely nothing. I was at the EuroPro Q-School in March just trying to get a bit of form going, so to have had the year I’ve had is incredible really.”
“I couldn’t really have asked for anything better than this year. I did well at the Irish Open and in the Alfred Dunhill Links, contended for a couple of Challenge Tour titles, but the biggest thing was I only missed two cuts – I think last year I only made about three.
“To have played a full season and been that consistent was very pleasing, and overall it’s been such a positive year that I can just look forward to this week and see it as a bonus if it all goes well – I’ve got nothing to lose so I’m going to be aggressive and see how it ends up.”
Moynihan will look to cap a breakthrough year with a European Tour card next week. Here is hoping for a successful week for the four Irish teeing it up this week.