Paul Dunne on the brink of success in Catalunya

Irish man up to 12th place in European Tour Q-School - Damien McGrane also in top 25

Greystones' Paul Dunne is poised to cap a dream year in style after a bogey free 69 left him on the brink of success with a round to play in the Final Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School at PGA Catalunya Resort.

The 22-year old shot to fame at St Andrews in July when he became the first amateur for 88 years to hold the 54-hole lead in The Open.

He didn’t win the Claret Jug and may not win in Girona on Thursday but after moving up six places to tied 12th in the race to finish among the top 25 and ties, he’s more than pleased with his performance so far.

“I am delighted with the 69 considering how I played,” said Dunne, who hit a five-iron to two feet at the 208-yard fifth and two putted from the fringes of the seventh and 12th for his other birdies to end the day seven strokes off the lead on 10 under par.

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“I hit a lot of ropey shots out there so to keep a bogey off the card was a goal of mine and I was happy to do that.”

Dunne insisted he’s feeling no pressure - “I’m enjoying the week,” he said. But he admitted to some tired swings down the stretch at the end of long year that’s been way beyond his expectations.

“A year ago my main goal was to get through Q-School so everything that has happen in the meantime has been a nice bonus,” he said. “I have tried to take it in my stride as well as I can.

“It is beyond what I would have pictured at the start of the year but I am not going to step back from any opportunities that arise. It’s been a great year but it is not finished yet.”

Damien McGrane is also on track to win back his card after a battling 72 that featured four birdies, a brace of three-putt bogeys and a double bogey at the fifth. But he fell just four spot to tied 18th on eight under, one shot inside the crucial top 25.

Newcastle, Co Down based Simon Thornton and Mount Juliet's Kevin Phelan both definitively kissed their chances of a full card goodbye after tough days on the greens saw them fall back to level par after rounds of 74 and 75 respectively.

At the top of the leaderboard, former European Tour winner Ross McGowan (64) and American Daniel Im (66) lead by three strokes on 17 under par from South Africans Ulrich Van Den Berg (69) and Jean Hugo (72) and Spaniard Adrian Otaegui (71).

European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage, PGA Catalunya Resort (Tour Course, Par 70; Stadium Course, Par 72), Girona

After 90 holes (5th round of 6)

339 D Im (USA) 70 68 65 70 66; R McGowan(Eng) 69 69 64 73 64;

342 A Otaegui(Esp) 74 63 62 72 71; U Van Den Berg(RSA) 72 64 66 71 69; J Hugo(RSA) 65 71 67 67 72;

343 C Hanson (Eng) 70 63 66 71 73;

344 M Southgate(Eng) 72 66 68 70 68; J Knutzon (USA) 67 68 66 72 71;

345 D Gavins (Eng) 71 65 66 68 75; J Scrivener (Aus) 65 72 70 71 67; N Bertasio (Ita) 71 68 66 71 69;

346 L Canter (Eng) 67 69 68 74 68; P Dunne (Irl) 71 68 70 68 69; M Kinhult (am) (Swe) 66 67 65 76 72;

347 F Laporta (Ita) 69 68 67 74 69; L Jensen (Den) 70 66 67 72 72; C Costilla (Arg) 68 71 68 68 72;

348 R McEvoy(Eng) 66 74 69 71 68; J Robinson (Eng) 72 69 64 71 72; D McGrane (Irl) 71 68 66 71 72; N Ravano (Ita) 75 65 65 72 71; G King (Eng) 64 72 64 74 74; D Papadatos (Aus) 67 70 65 76 70;

349 R Finch(Eng) 69 66 70 73 71; M Palmer (RSA) 63 71 68 75 72; P Oriol (Esp) 70 73 69 69 68; D Dixon (Eng) 72 68 64 71 74; W Besseling(Ned) 68 71 68 72 70; C Berardo (Fra) 76 64 63 77 69; D Gaunt (Aus) 68 74 69 70 68;

350 N Cullen (Aus) 61 73 66 78 72; L Nemecz (Aut) 67 65 66 80 72; J Loughrey (Eng) 72 72 69 69 68; J Walters (RSA) 68 73 69 73 67; J Guerrier(Fra) 69 70 66 72 73;

351 J Hahn (USA) 71 74 69 68 69; H Joannes(Bel) 66 70 68 73 74; R Evans(Eng) 67 72 70 73 69; D Law (Sco) 67 72 68 72 72; F Fritsch(Ger) 68 69 66 75 73; J White (Eng) 68 74 73 67 69;

352 M Foster (Eng) 71 68 67 73 73; S Manley (Wal) 66 74 69 74 69; R Saxton (Ned) 74 72 71 66 69; H Porteous (RSA) 65 72 74 68 73; P Shields (Sco) 67 70 68 77 70; E Molinari(Ita) 66 77 71 68 70;

353 S Soderberg (Swe) 74 69 73 67 70; M Jonzon (Swe) 68 70 65 74 76; P Widegren(Swe) 71 73 72 67 70; C Sordet(Fra) 71 66 64 77 75; R Fox (Nzl) 68 77 71 64 73; A Karlsson(Swe) 67 73 69 73 71; D Lloyd (RSA) 64 74 69 76 70; F Bergamaschi (Ita) 67 65 75 75 71;

354 S Arnold(Aus) 70 71 69 71 73; C Ford (Eng) 71 71 73 67 72; A Hartø(Den) 72 68 68 74 72; P Whiteford (Sco) 74 70 67 68 75; K Ferrie (Eng) 70 69 64 77 74; J Lima(Por) 74 70 72 66 72;

355 E Goya (Arg) 73 63 69 73 77; M Delpodio(Ita) 72 67 69 73 74; P Hedblom (Swe) 69 74 73 67 72; M Nixon (Eng) 72 76 68 67 72; D Foos (Ger) 74 70 69 68 74; L Gagli(Ita) 71 71 72 68 73;

356 G Axell (Swe) 74 68 75 66 73; S Thornton (Irl) 71 67 73 71 74; M Pavon (Fra) 67 68 71 74 76; K Phelan (Irl) 70 72 66 73 75; D Burmester (RSA) 74 67 69 71 75;

357 D Bransdon (Aus) 72 71 72 67 75; M Lafeber (Ned) 74 66 65 78 74; S Fernandez (am) (Esp) 64 72 67 79 75;

358 J Dantorp (Swe) 66 71 71 75 75;

359 P Howard(Eng) 73 67 68 75 76;

363 O Stark (Swe) 77 65 71 70 80.