Irish fail to make progress in Spain

 

A level par 72 has left Michael McGeady as the nearest Irish challenger after the fourth round in the final stage of the European Tour Qualfying School, but he has a way to go yet if he is to catch England's Danny Willett on 16-under-par.

Willett's round of 70 moved him to the summit of the leaderboard after overnight leader Oskar Henningson dropped to second on 15 under with a 74.

The Swede has compatriot Ake Nilsson breathing down his neck on 14 under, while Dane Eirik Tage Johansen and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger are a shot behind him.

On seven-under-par, McGeady is currently in a tie for 19th.  The top 30 after six rounds earn a category 11 European Tour card.

Despite failing to make ground today, Ulster pair Jonathan Caldwell and Michael Hoey are just a shot behind McGeady after a 74 and 72, respectively, left them tied for 23rd.

The final Irish hopeful is Simon Thornton but he tied for 62nd on one-under-par after a 72. 

Former world amateur number one Willett bounced back from a double bogey at the 10th, where he four-putted from 35 feet, with a birdie on the closing hole lifting him ahead of Henningsson.

"It was an up and down one today and the four-putt was not what I wanted but I managed to get my head back on and played really well over the last eight holes," said Willett. "The target is obviously to finish as high as possible because you want to give yourself as many opportunities to get into tournaments as you can.

"In the nicest possible way, it would be good to win here and then never come back again."

Scotland's Chris Doak improved 84 places from 107th to 23rd with a dazzling nine-under-par 63.

The 30-year-old Scot has already clinched starts in some of the most lucrative events on the 2009 European circuit after winning last month's PGA play-offs  at Royal Liverpool, but the Greenock pro is now eyeing a full card.

"I knew I needed to do something just to make the cut so in the circumstances this has to be the best round of my career," he said.

Former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker was one of a host of players left to reflect on damaging conclusions to their rounds which left them outside the cut mark of one over.

Baker had hauled himself into the all-important top 70 but leaked four shots in his last five holes to miss out by three shots.

Sweden's Fredrik Andersson endured an even more calamitous end to his round, dropping seven shots over his last five holes to finish one shot shy of mark.