Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Drummond, still to finish, likely to make it six

Scots through to last two rounds of Q School

Five Scots have survived the fourth-round cut in the six-round European Final Qualifying School at PGA Catalunya Resort, Girona in North-east Spain where there was a 1hr 15min delay to the start of the day's play because of overnight frost.
Stephen Gallacher, who has played 31 consecutive holes without a bogey, had an excellent fourth-round 66 to move up the leaderboard from joint 39th to joint 11th on 10-under-par 274.
Steven O'Hara went up from sharing 22nd place to joint 14th on 275 with a 69.
Andrew Coltart (68 for 279), Callum Macaulay (67 for 281) and Andrew Oldcorn (70 for 281) all responded to the pressure in fine style, either to hit the maximum qualifying score of 281 or get under it.
Anglo-Scot Scott Drummond, pictured above, will almost certainly make it six Scots in the final field over the last 36 holes. He was one of six players at the end of the field who, with their immediate golfing futures on the line in the fading light, took the option of coming back early Wednesday morning to finish their fourth rounds. He is seven under par - heading for a four-round total of 277 - with one hole to play.
Greig Hutcheon shot a 67, easily his best of the four rounds, for 282, failing by just one shot to duck under the "barrier." A bogey at the 12th meant the difference to the Banchory GC pro between success and failure. Also on 282 was George Murray after a closing round of 70 which included a double bogey 6 at the 15th.
Jamie McLeary found his form too late - third and fourth rounds of 69 and 68 added up to 137, compared with 146 for his first and second rounds. On 283, he failed by two.
Eric Ramsay (71 for 290) and Alan McLean (71 for 291) never got into contention.

Stephen Gallacher Tour hopes gaining momentum

A putting tip from an old friend reaped its rewards for Stephen Gallacher yesterday as his challenge in the European Tour's qualifying school final gathered pace in the fourth round at PGA Golf de Catalunya near Girona.
The former Dunhill Links champion carved out a rousing six-under 66 over the Stadium course for a ten-under 274 to surge up into a share of 11th behind English frontrunner Simon Khan, who also carded a 66 for his 264 total.Gallacher, making his competitive return after four months on the sidelines with a viral infection, last competed in the Q School final back in 1996 and had his good friend, Aiden O'Reilly, as his caddie.
The West Lothian double act have teamed up to good effect 13 years later and Gallacher now heads into the closing 36 holes well inside a top 30 placing needed to secure a tour card.
"I had struggled with my putting in round three and Aiden told me to look in the mirror and see if I noticed anything silly," said Gallacher, who holed two 15-footers for birdies at five and nine in a bogey-free round.
"I was opening my shoulders a bit so I got that fixed and putted very well today. It was a good tip and it's great to have him on the bag. I knew I needed a good score today and this has got me right up there."
Motherwell's Steven O'Hara continued his steady progress with a tidy three-under 69 for a nine-under 275 and a share of 14th while former PGA champion Scott Drummond was handily placed on a seven-under total with one hole to complete after play was abandoned in the gathering gloom following an early morning frost delay.
Andrew Coltart reeled off four birdies in a neatly assembled 68 as he moved to the fringes of the card-winning places with a five-under 279, while former PGA champion Andrew Oldcorn posted 16 pars and two birdies in a 70 to qualify for the closing 36 holes on a 281.
Tulliallan's Callum Macaulay, who came through the Q School last year but lost his card at the end of his rookie season, stayed on course for a swift return with a battling three-under 67 on the Tour course to join Oldcorn on the 281 mark and make the cut with nothing to spare.
Greig Hutcheon, Jamie McLeary, George Murray, Eric Ramsay and Alan McLean were the Scottish hopefuls who all departed early

Simon Khan moves three shots clear with a 66

European Tour winner Simon Khan moved into a three shot lead at Qualifying School – Final Stage with an impressive six under par 66 in the fourth round at PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, Spain.
Khan, the 2004 Celtic Manor Wales Open champion, moved to 20 under for the tournament and leads Spaniard Alejandro Cañizares, whose brilliant finish of eagle-par-birdie gave him a round of seven under par 65.
Khan’s fellow Englishman Charlie Ford, a 24 year old Qualifying School rookie and joint overnight leader, signed for a two under par 70 to sit one stroke behind Cañizares, who only just finished his round before darkness fell, a consequence of the hour and 15 minute delay to the start because of heavy frost.

Six players - including Anglo-Scot Scott Drummond - opted to finish their rounds on Wednesday morning. Drummond has three holes to play.
Khan began with a bogey at the first hole of the Stadium Course but soon found his rhythm and made amends with three birdies on the front nine to go out in 34. Ford started well with four birdies in his opening eight holes but slipped up with a double bogey at the ninth and another at the 12th.
Khan continued to make progress after the turn, posting birdies at the tenth and 12th, 13th and the par five 15th, and his lead would have been greater had Cañizares not produced such a sublime finish in the late afternoon gloom.
“I’m happy with a 66 because I did what I set out to do,” said Khan. “I didn’t get too down on myself after the slow start, and my attitude’s been pretty good all week really. All I’ve been concentrating on is my own game, and not worrying about anything else. I putted well, particularly on the back nine, and generally I’ve been reading the greens pretty well.
“To shoot 66 is always good but especially so on that course because it’s a tough test. I’ve got out of the mindset of setting a score in my head and trying to shoot it, and instead just playing golf. If I can do that over the next two days, I should be alright.”
Cañizares, who holed a bunker shot for birdie at the fifth, said: “It was getting very cold out there for the last five holes but I kept my focus and stayed positive. To finish with three threes was a pretty big bonus. It was probably my best putting round of the year, and that’s been my main weakness this year.
“My aim was to finish in the top ten if I could, but now I’m probably setting my sights a bit higher than that. I’m looking forward to the next two days.”
Ford may not have kept pace with Khan and Cañizares but was upbeat about his game, saying: “I’m pretty happy how I’ve played to get to here. There are still 36 holes to go so it’s a long way. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
There were tales of agony and ecstasy, something Qualifying School never fails to provide, with Wes Heffernan on course to make the cut until a triple bogey 8 at the final hole meant he missed out by a single stroke. And Jonathan Caldwell suffered the same fate, carding an 8 at the 18th when a par would have been enough to be playing in the fifth round.
At the other end of the spectrum Julien Clément fired a six under par 64 to move to four under overall and make the cut, as did Manuel Quiros who had a five under par 67 on the Stadium Course.
South African Anton Haig, who won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket in 2007, produced the best round of the day, blitzing the back nine on the shorter course in 28 shots in an eight under par 62 which included two eagles, to reach seven under for the tournament.
At the end of the fourth day, there were 75 players on three under 281 or better to return for the final two rounds, both of which will be played over the Stadium Course on Wednesday and
Thursday. On completion, the leading 30 players and ties will secure cards for the 2010 European Tour International Schedule.

European Tour Final Qualifying School Scoreboard
PGA CATALUNYA, Girona, Spain

+Top 70 and ties qualify for fifth and sixth rounds
+Top 30 and ties after six rounds earn Tour playing rights
Par 284 (2x70, 2x72)
264 Simon Khan (Eng)( 68 63 67 66.
267 Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 74 67 61 65.
268 Charlie Ford (Eng) 67 64 67 70.
271 Marco Ruiz (Paraguay) 71 68 63 69.
272 Jamie Elson (Eng) 68 65 66 73, Jarmo Sandelin (Swe) 66 69 67 70, Sam Walker (Eng) 70 64 69 69.
273 James Ruth (Eng) 64 75 66 68, Patrik Sjoland (Swe) 72 65 67 69, Stephan Gross junior (Ger) 69 72
274 Clodomiro Carranza (Arg) 65 73 68 68, Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 68 72 68 66, Sam Hutsby (Eng) 69 72 65 68.
Selected scores among rest of qualifiers:
275 Steven O'Hara (Sco) 68 70 68 69 (jt 14th).
279 Andrew Coltart (Sco) 71 71 69 68.
281 Callum Macaulay (Sco) 70 73 71 67, Andrew Oldcorn (Sco) 72 68 71 70.
+Scott Drummond (Sco) is one of six players who will complete their fourth rounds early on Wednesday morning.
Selected scores among non-qualifiers (282 and higher)
282 Greig Hutcheon (Sco) 73 72 70 67, George Murray (Sco) 73 70 69 70.
283 Jamie McLeary (Sco) 72 74 69 68.
290 Eric Ramsay (Sco) 72 73 74 71.
291 Alan McLean (Sco) 76 71 73 71.
+The start of play was delayed 1hr 15min because of early morning frost ... in Spain!



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