Damian Mooney / Image from Getty Images
Both Damian Mooney and Brendan McGovern will live to fight another day at Staysure Tour Qualifying School Final Stage in Portugal.
Needing to be within eight shots of 5th place at moving day’s end, the pair ground out what was needed but face a mammoth task if they’re to secure one of five cards on offer in Thursday’s final round.
Belfast golfer Mooney managed to break par for the first time this week in carding a one-under-par 70 at Vale da Pinta to move to a three-over total.
It could have been so much better too but for a double bogey at unlucky 13 stopping Mooney’s momentum in his tracks having played the first 12 holes in minus-three.
Still, with those finishing at five-over-par and better assured of one last round, Mooney qualified comfortably in a share of 14th spot to take his chance on Thursday.
It was a slightly tenser affair for McGovern who carded a second successive even-par 71 to claim his place in the final day field. The Headfort professional finds himself a shot further back in a tie for 20thon four-over-par with it all to do if he’s to retain his status amongst the veterans.
At the top, America’s Dan Olsen leads Qualifying on seven-under-par after posting a five under 66 on Day Three as 27 players booked their place in the final round by making the five over par cut.
Spaniard José Manuel Carriles and Canada’s David Morland IV are three shots back on four-under-par, while the trio of Sion E Bebb, Tim Thelen and Peter T Wilson share fourth place on three under.
Three birdies going out and a further three coming in, with a single bogey, was enough for the American to open a three-shot advantage with 18 holes remaining.
The 52-year-old progressed through First Stage at Gramacho Golf Club last week after revealing he was attracted to the Tour following his appearance at The Senior Open Presented by Rolex last year.
“I’ve played a lot on the PGA of America at home and I came over last summer and played in the The Senior Open at St Andrews,” he said.
“I qualified and got in but then missed the cut, but it was a great experience. It made me want to come back and play some more tournaments on the Staysure Tour.
“They’re good guys over here. They’re such professionals who have played a lot of golf. I had good pairings even at Gramacho and it’s been really good,” Olsen said after playing with Wilson and George Ryall on Day Three.
Olsen’s third round 66 added to his second round of 67, and even after a slow start to the week, where he was four over after nine holes, the American is still pleased with his game in Portugal.
“It’s pretty hard to get round here in that score,” he said. “I’ve got plenty of respect for this place, so I’m really happy with today. I controlled my ball nicely and I just need to go and do that tomorrow.
“I played pretty well yesterday and shot four under. I played a bad first nine on the first day and from then on I’ve done a good job of controlling my ball at a difficult place to do that.”
The American is hoping to follow the lead of countryman Clark Dennis by earning his card at Q-School and becoming a man to watch on the over-50s golf scene.
“A lot of these guys play better in their 50s and I’m sure Clark is one of those guys,” Olsen said. “I want to be one of those guys.
“Some guys’ minds get better and their bodies don’t deteriorate for some reason. For example, Bernhard Langer is 61 and he’s great. I think a lot of guys have played better in their 50s than they did in their 30s and 20s.
“I look forward to trying to be one of those guys. It will give me great satisfaction if I get one of those cards tomorrow. I just need to play each shot on every hole and not try and get too smart.”
Overnight leader André Bossert relinquished the lead early on Day Three as he posted a five-over-par front nine before eventually gaining a shot and signing for a four over 75. He will head into the final round in tied eighth on one-under-par alongside Simon P Brown and Michael Long.
The last man to make the cut was Richard Tinworth in tied 27th as he finished on five-over-par after three rounds. Glenn Joyner will also contest the final round after back-to-back birdies on the final two holes meant he jumped from six over par to four over.
The final round will begin at 9.00am local time on Thursday January 31 as the remaining 27 players compete for one of five cards.