Three Scots still in European Tour card race

Peter Whiteford shot an impressive 68 at the European Tour Qualifying School Final at PGA Catalunya.  Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Peter Whiteford shot an impressive 68 at the European Tour Qualifying School Final at PGA Catalunya. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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Three Scots - David Law, Peter Whiteford and Paul Shields - are still standing in the scuffle for cards after the fourth round of the European Tour’s Qualifying School at PGA Catalunya, near Girona in north-east Spain.

As the 72-hole cut fell on one-under-par, however, Scott Henry, Ross Kellett, Jack Doherty and Bradley Neil were all among those to make early exits in the six-round marathon.

The Scottish contingent was reduced to seven before play started following George Murray’s withdrawal after arriving at the halfway stage on 11-over-par.

Whiteford backed up his best-of-the-day 67 on the Stadium Course the previous day with another sub-par effort on the Tour layout.

He was three-under for the day after a hat-trick of birdies from the ninth, slipped up with a double-bogey at the 16th before signing off with a birdie-4.

It added up to a 68 and, sitting on five-under, the Fifer has given himself a chance to regain the card he held for five seasons before losing it just over 12 months ago.

Law, who has a Challenge Tour card to fall back on but is determined to join his mentor, Paul Lawrie, on the main circuit next season, also reached the 72-hole mark on five-under.

After picking up three birdies in five holes on the back nine of the Stadium Course, the two-times Scottish Amateur champion signed for his first double-bogey of the week at the 17th.

He bounced back with a birdie at the last, though, and he, too, is heading into the final 36 holes just two shots out of a card-winning position.

Shields, who started the day as the leading Scot on seven-under, finally seemed to be affected by the nerves of this unique test as he limped home in 40 for a 77.

The five-over effort dropped him back to a share of 51st on two-under alongside 2010 Scottish open champion and Johnnie Walker Championship winner Edoardo Molinari.

But the 24-year-old Kirkhill man can go out in the last two circuits knowing he has already secured a step up to the Challenge Tour next season.

Henry’s bid to improve his ranking, having finished 18th on the second-tier circuit money-list, died following a disappointing 76 on the Stadium Course.

After a birdie at the 15th - his sixth - the 28-year-old played his next 10 holes needing to pick uop just one more shot to get in before finishing bogey-bogey for a two-over total.

Four-under for the day with four to play on the Tour Course, Doherty had hauled himself above the cut line only to suffer a sore finish.

The 33-year-old, who held a main Tour card in 2014, dropped a shot at the 15th then ran up a triple-boegy 8 at the last.

“I had had 215 yards to the front with my approach but pulled a 4-iron five yards left and the ball kicked into the hazard,” said the former Australian Amateur champion.

“I then flew it straight over green OB - the par-5s did me no favours this week!”

A level-par 70 left him on three-over, the same as Ross Kellett after he posted a 77 on a frustrating day that failed to yield a single birdie.

In contrast, Neil mustered five on the Tour Course but, after dropping four shots on the back nine, the 19-year-old finished on four-over after a 70.

Others to miss the cut included 2006 Scottish Open champion Johan Edfors, 2007 Dunhill Links winner Nick Dougherty, 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship runner-up Ricardo Gonzalez and this year’s SSE Scottish Hyrdo Challenge winner, Jack Senior.

There was disapppointment, too, for Walker Cup team-mates Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen, though Paul Dunne, a third member of the winning GB&I team at Royal Lytham in September, is still in card contention.

On a day when the joint-overnight leaders, Swedish amateur Marcus Kinhult and Austrian Lukas Nemecz dropped back after struggling to 76 and 80 respectively, four players surged to the head of affairs.

English duo Daniel Gavins and Chris Hanson shot 68 and 71 respectively on the Stadium Course to move to 14-under, where they were joined by South African Jean Hugo after his 67 on the same track.