Irish trio make the grade at Tour School
Phelan, Higgins and McGee make 72-hole cut but McElroy fails to progress
Stuart Manley of Wales lines up a putt during the fourth round of European Tour qualifying school final stage at PGA Catalunya. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Kevin Phelan, David Higgins and Ruaidhri McGee have made the cut and are still in the hunt for a European Tour Card after Day Four of the final stage qualifying event in Spain but Dermot McElroy’s hopes are over.
Rosapenna’s McGee was in the top 10 after the second round of the tournament at the PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona but only just managed to finish inside the top 70 and ties at the end of his fourth round, ending the day in a share of 62nd spot.
McGee’s carded a two-over par 74 around the trickier Stadium Course with a double bogey 7 at the 12th – for the second day running - as well as bogeys at the 4th, 6th and 18th.
The Derry native will require a dramatic change in fortunes during the final two rounds to finish in the top 25 and ties and get his hand on a Tour Card as he is currently sat at two-under par with an aggregate score of 282.
Waterford’s Phelan produced another under par round with a decent one-under par 71 around the Stadium Course to maintain his chances of finishing in the top 25 to leave him on five-under for the tournament with an aggregate of 279. But he still has work to do as he is currently in a share of 41st place and will look for a few more birdies when his fifth round gets underway.
Phelan, who made the cut at the US Open in Merion earlier this year lies three shots off the current score required to claim a European Tour card. And the composed 23-year-old was not letting the occasion get the better of him though and says he is now focussed on making a climb up the leaderboard as he chases a rookie season in The Race to Dubai having turned professional in September.
“I try not to think about cuts or anything too much,” said the 2013 Walker Cup player. “I’m just trying to get as high up the leaderboard as possible.
“I played really well in the front nine today but didn’t get much out of it, only two birdies even though I had chances on almost every hole. On the back nine I didn’t strike it as well but I got up and down well so it was a round of two nines I suppose.
“I played quite well overall so I’m happy enough going into the final two rounds. I took it easy in practice so I still feel fresh now after four rounds so I think that was important for me. I feel good and I am into the rhythm of the tournament now, it just feels a little longer.
“I will just approach these next two days the same as the first four, just plod along and take each shot as it comes and there’s not much else you can do. The pressure is there if you focus on it but I don’t pay much attention to it. I know what works for me so I stick to that and keep my head down.”
Higgins also has a chance of making the top 25 after finishing the day in a share of 62nd place alongside McGee. Higgins shot a two-under 70 for the day to finish on two-under for the tournament with an aggregate of 282 after previous scores of 67, 73 and 72.
McElroy produced his best golf of the week thus far posting a two-under 68 but it was not enough for the Ballymena amateur who finished on two-over par with an aggregate of 286 to leave him in a tie for 96th spot and miss the cut.
Spain’s Carlos Del Moral is the new leader on 14-under par after a phenomenal bogey-free nine-under par 63 that included seven birdies and an eagle.