Irish duo make a surge on day three


QUALIFYING SCHOOL:Chris Devlin and Simon Thornton led the Irish charge in the third round of European Tour second stage qualifying yesterday with stunning scores of 64 and 66 respectively.

Ballymena-born Devlin carded seven birdies in a brilliant bogey-free round at Las Colinas in Alicante, one which lifted him to joint sixth on the leaderboard, four strokes behind Dutch leader Tim Sluiter who is flying on 11 under.

While Devlin looks good for one of 19 qualifying places at this venue – the other three courses have 18 up for grabs – going into today’s final round, Co Down’s Thornton is also in a great position after climbing to the top of the standings at El Saler in Valencia on six-under-par. After six birdies, the only blot was a bogey on the last green but he had still done enough to share first place with England’s Jason Timmis.

Also well-placed in Valencia is Waterville’s David Higgins.He shot 69 yesterday and is in a tie for seventh while Lurgan’s Gareth Shaw is in with a chance on two-over-par following a third-round 70. Ruaidhrí McGee (74) could find it tough to qualify after a double bogey seven on the 15th and a dropped shot at the last while Noel Fox (72) doesn’t have much hope on 10 over.

Back at Las Colinas, Brendan McCarroll (71) is just a stroke off the cut-off point on one-under-par, Mark Murphy (70) is two further adrift but Barrie Trainor (73) is out of contention.

Niall Kearney followed up a 66 on Thursday with a four-under 67 to move to joint-fifth at the Lumine club in Tarragona, two shots adrift of England’s Martin Sell who leads on 12 under.

It’ll be touch and go for Jonathan Caldwell (70)and Mark Staunton (71), two and three strokes off the last qualifying berth respectively, however Rathmore amateur Alan Dunbar (73) is trying to avoid finishing last.

At El Valle, Tim Rice (70) and Peter O’Keeffe(72) are tied for 15th, bang on the cut-off point, on two-under. Cian Curley fired a 68 but still has some work to do.

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