Daily Round-Up: Duncan Stewart finishes 2nd in MENA Tour Q School

Q-School qualifiers.

Q-School qualifiers.

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Grantown-on-Spey’s Duncan Stewart earned a near £2,000 reward after finishing second in the inaugural MENA Tour Qualifying School in Spain.

The figure was a combination of prize-money and his membership fee for the third-tier circuit this season being covered.

“It’s been a very worthwhile trip as it gives me something to build on for the year,” said Stewart after carding scores of 75 and 71 in testing conditions at Almenara in Sotogrande for a two-over-par total to finish two shots behind Spaniard Javier Gallegos.

“I played really solid today and could have been a few shots better but I’m happy with the result.”

Based until now in the Middle East and North Africa, the circuit, which has Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke as its patron, is expanding its footprint this year into nine countries across three continents.

It boasts 21 events in total, but Edinburgh-based Stewart will be limited to sporadic appearances due to the Challenge Tour remaining his priority.

“My next event is the Barclays Kenya Open on the Challenge Tour next month,” he added. “But I will play the MENA Tour event at Sotogrande in Spain at the start of April.”

Glenbervie man Fraser Moore (78-79) also secured his card in joint-26th.

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Sally Watson narrowly missed out on qualifying for this week’s Australian Women’s Open in Adelaide.

The 24-year-old is second alternate for the event, which starts on Thursday, after finishing fifth in today’s 18-hole qualifier at The Grange.

The three spots on offer were all claimed by Koreans - Eunwoo Choi and Eun jeong Seong sharing first place on 69 while Hye-jin Choi beat Australian Robyn Choi in a sudden-death play-off after they both carded 70s.

After a 71, Watson found herself in a play-off with England’s Alexandra Peters and Frenchwoman Jade Schaeffer for alternate spots.

That was eventually settled at the fifth extra hole, Watson coming out on top and now hoping there will be some withdrawals between now and Thursday.

“Last week was unfortunately just bad timing, unfortunately,” said the Elie player of being forced to withdraw before the first round of the New Zealand Women’s Open in Christchurch.

“My back flared up the first half of the week and I just didn’t quite have enough days to rest it before the tournament started on Friday.

“It’s a long season ahead and with the Aussie Open qualifier this week and the Masters next week, I didn’t want to push it and cause myself to be out for even longer.

“It was a hard decision to withdraw, but I tried to hit balls before my round and was unable to do it pain free. It’s never a nice feeling missing out on an opportunity to compete but it was the right decision.”

The two-times Curtis Cup player added: “Today, thankfully, the back felt much better and I was really excited to be back playing.

“I think my general feeling of gratitude helped me to really enjoy myself out on the course and stay patient in the windy conditions.

“I also had no expectations given I hadn’t hit any balls in a week but the strike was pretty solid and I did a good job of managing my way around the course.

“It was nice to earn the second alternate space and my job now is just to get ready and hope that an opportunity comes along on Thursday.”

Kelsey MacDonald and Heather MacRae weren’t too far away from getting in the mix as they both carded 73s while Gemma Dryburgh had a 76.

After her withdrawal during the final round of the New Zealand Women’s Open on Sunday due to a back injury, Pamela Pretswell didn’t take up her spot in the field.

“I got up this morning and my back was a little better, but sadly not good enough to play so I had to withdraw,” said the 26-year-old.

“I received some very good treatment from the tour physio this afternoon and he will be looking after me the rest of the week, so, fingers crossed, I should be back playing soon.”

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Greig Hutcheon has five shots to make up on European Tour winner Ricardo Santos in the final round of an Algarve Pro Golf Tour event at Palmares in Lagos.

The Paul Lawrie Golf Centre player is lying eighth after rounds of 71 and 66, with Santos, the 2012 Madeira Island Open winner holding a one-shot lead after a brace of 66s.

Jordan McColl (Kingsbarns Pro Academy) is joint-17th on 141, two better than Craig Lawrie and seven better than Conor O’Neil.

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Sole Scot Daniel Young missed the cut by three shots after rounds of 77 and 72 in the Red Sea Little Venice Open, the second of three Alps Tour events in Egypt.

Frenchman Franck Daux (63-71) takes a two-shot lead into the final round at Sokhna over England’s Matt Wallace (68-68).

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Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler are set to lock horns in a televised exhibition match under lights during the week of the US Open.

The Associated Press is reporting that the pair will play in the event at Detroit Golf Club on June 7, which is the Tuesday before US Open week at Oakmont outside of Pittsburgh.

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