Dunne faces into unknown in uphill battle to salvage card
Paul Dunne faces his first match-ball in his battle to salvage his European Tour card after a level-par 71 left him in danger of missing the cut at the final-counting Portugal Masters.
The Greystones star (26) was three-under-par with three holes to go in Vilamoura. But he drove into a lake at his 16th hole (7th) and ran up a double-bogey six before finishing with a bogey five.
As a result, he's tied 76th, one stroke outside the projected cut mark and in danger of missing his sixth cut on the spin and 12th from his last 14 starts.
With a host of players ranked below in the Race to Dubai getting off to hot starts, he may now need a top 30 finish to move inside the top 117 who will have full cards in 2020.
South Africa's Louis de Jager, who is 124th, made eight birdies in an immaculate, eight-under 63 to lead by two strokes from compatriot Justin Walters (ranked 121st), England's Oliver Fisher (112th) and Australian Jake McLeod (159th).
Five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey (40) is 57th after a 70 as he chases the runner-up finish he needs to win back his card.
But Gavin Moynihan (25) managed just one birdie in a three-over 74 that leaves him tied 111th in an event where he must finish solo fourth to avoid a trip to Q-School.
As for European Ryder Cup skipper Pádraig Harrington, he battled back from four-over after 10 holes to post a two-over 73.
At the Challenge Tour's Foshan Open in China, Cormac Sharvin (27) made six birdies in a four-under 68 to share 11th place, four shots behind England's Ben Stow.
The Ardglass star went into the penultimate event lying eighth in the race for 15 European Tour cards but he's still gunning for his maiden win.
At the Alps Tour Grand Final, Castleknock's David Carey (23) fired a seven-under 65 to move up to tied fourth at halfway at Terre dei Consoli in Italy.
After shooting an amazing 57 in last month's Cervino Open win, he's just one stroke off the lead and seeking a second victory that would guarantee him promotion to the Challenge Tour.