Jamie McLeary almost DQd as he cards best round of season

Jamie Mcleary opened with a four-under-par 67 in the Italian Open in Monza. Picture: Getty Images

Jamie Mcleary opened with a four-under-par 67 in the Italian Open in Monza. Picture: Getty Images

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Jamie McLeary carded a four-under-par 67 - his best round of the season - to ignite a badly-needed flame as he battles to hang on to a European Tour card.

The six-birdie effort in the opening round of the Italian Open left the 35-year-old sitting joint-fifth in the clubhouse at the end of weather-hit day in Milan.

Having made just one cut in his last nine events, McLeary is sitting 175th in the Race to Dubai and is running out of time to climb to safety in the top 110.

“I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself this week as there is obviously a long way to go, but shooting good scores is good for the soul,” he said. “Playing well lifts you in a way that nothing else can.”

The morale-boosting performance almost counted for nothing, though. “I was almost DQ’d on the ninth today as I hit an approach shot about 15 yards over the back of the green,” added McLeary. “The referee was about to give me line of sight from a stand when a volunteer came up and told me it was out of bounds.

“It wasn’t on our planner or the local rules but it was. If I’d have let the referee give me a drop and I’d have played it I would have been out the tournament. I was steaming walking to the 10th tee after having to go back and play another ball but I managed to call myself down by the 16th!”

Defending champion Rikard Karlberg set the clubhouse pace with a 64 on a day when four hours and 55 minutes was lost due to torrential rain and lightning.

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Seven Scots, including newly-turned professional Ewen Ferguson and amateur Liam Johnston, are on course to clear the first hurdle at The Roxburghe, near Kelso, in the annual Qualifying School scramble for European Tour cards.

On an easier scoring day at the Borders venue, overnight leader Jack Doherty slipped to joint-second, a 71 for a nine-under-par 54-hole total leaving him three shots adrift of Chris Lloyd afrer the Englishman moved into pole position with a 67 that contained six birdies.

However, Doherty’s polished performance so far means he is comfortably placed to be among the top 21 and ties, the qualifying quota from this particular venue, and the same applies to both Ferguson and Johnston with a round to go.

Ferguson, who is making his first Qualifying School bid after turning professional last month, jumped to fourth - a shot behind Doherty and Thai Panuphol Pittayarat, who signed for a best-of-the-day 66 - after a 67 that included an eagle and four birdies.

Despite a bogey-bogey finish in his 71, Johnston also occupies lofty position on the leaderboard, the Dumfries & County player sitting joint-sixth after carding three sub-par rounds so far in an opening examination that is notoriously difficult to pass.

US-based Paul Ferrier, sitting joint-ninth following a 68, has given himself a chance of progressing to the second stage as well, as have Jamie Savage and Sam Kiloh after they carded matching 69s to lie joint-14th as well as Daniel Young, who is right on the mark in joint-21st after the same third-round score.

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Scotland sit joint-34th, 30 shots behind leaders Korea, at the halfway stage in the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Mexico.

Rachel Taylor’s 74 and a 75 from Jessica Meek were the counting scores for the Scots in the second round at Mayakoba El Camaleon Golf Club.

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