Shields and Nicholson top stage one qualifier

PAUL Shields and Greg Nicolson filled the top two spots in the stage one event for the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Qualifying School at De Vere Oulton Hall near Leeds.

Overnight leader Shields followed up his opening 66 with a 71 to claim victory with a three-under total of 137. The Kirkhill player finished one shot ahead of compatriot Nicolson, who carded a second-round 70 after he’d started with a 68.

Shields, who joined the professional ranks after helping Scotland win the Home Internationals last year, mixed three birdies with four bogeys as he claimed victory.

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Mortonhall man Nicolson had a similar second round as his card contained three birdies and three bogeys.

Callum Trahan, who played his golf in the north-east but is now attached to Gleneagles Hotel, also finished in the top ten, as did Ian Redford, beaten finalist in the 2010 Scottish Boys’ Championship.

Trahan had rounds of 73 and 72 to finish on five-over, the same total posted by Redford after the St Andrews New player signed for the same scores.

Former Scottish international Graeme Brown (Montrose Golf Links) was the next best of the large Scottish contingent among the card hopefuls in Yorkshire.

He followed an opening 72 with a 75 to finish in joint-17th on seven-over.

Other qualifiers for next week’s final stage at Frilford Heath included Andrew Rollo (Moray), James Dick (Duddingston), Pumpherston amateur Paul Drake and the unattached Callum Lawson.

Also heading there are ex-British Boys’ champion Jordan Findlay, former Challenge Tour winner Eric Ramsay and Longniddry’s Myles Cunningham after they just crept into the top 60.

Play at the other two venues being used for the first stage, Stoke-by-Nayland and the Players’ Club in Bristol, was affected by the weather.

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At Stoke-by-Nayland, former Wigan and Hull midfielder Jimmy Bullard was one of the players still to complete his second round.

However, he was well-placed to be among the 67 qualifiers there after opening with a three-over 75.

Certain to progress to the final stage was Warren Bennett, winner of the inaugural Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles in 1999.

He was sharing the clubhouse lead with fellow Englishman Jonathan Bell after adding a 72 to his opening 69.

In Bristol, the event was reduced to just 18 holes due to the adverse conditions. Sixty-eight players secured spots there and they included Newmachar’s Martin Lawrence, who’s six-over 76 was good enough to secure a share of 24th spot.