Kearney facing Challenge roll call after sloppy day at Q-School
Niall Kearney can look forward to a season on the Challenge Tour next year after a fifth-round 76 sent him slithering to joint last place at the European Tour Qualifying School finals in Spain.
The top 30 and ties after today's sixth and final round at PGA Golf de Catalunya will earn the right to tee it up on the 2011 Race to Dubai.
But Kearney's hopes of making a dramatic comeback after nearly six months out of the game following shoulder surgery were dashed by what he described as a "sloppy" display on the Stadium Course.
Despite the intense pressure, no fewer than 45 of the 70 players who made the cut managed to match or break par at the 7,205-yard course.
England's Simon Wakefield shot a 67 and Spain's Carlos del Moral a seven-under 65 to lead by one shot on 16-under, with 35 players at nine-under or better.
But Kearney simply wasn't straight enough off the tee or clinical enough around the greens and he slipped all the way back to level-par after a round that featured three birdies, three bogeys and a pair of costly double-bogeys.
"I've had five double-bogeys in the last two days and that's mainly been down to driving poorly," Kearney said. "But I'll have a full Challenge Tour card next year, which is what I had this year before I had the operation.
"I have just played sloppy golf. The swing has been a little bit off and I haven't really had the bounce of the ball and been stuck behind a few trees with no swing."
Starting on the back nine, the 22-year-old Dubliner got off to a bad start when he bunkered his tee shot at the par-three 11th and failed to get up and down.
Stymied behind a tree following a poor drive at the 14th, he ran up a double-bogey six there to slip to three-over for the day before recovering some ground with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 15th.
He parred his way to the turn and then birdied the first hole thanks to a wonderful approach to 10 feet and a solid putt. But having failed to birdie the par-five third after another drive into the trees, he three-putted the fourth for a bogey and pulled his four-iron tee shot into the lake at the 209-yard fifth to run up a double-bogey five.
Four-over for the round, he knew it wasn't going to be his day when his nine-iron approach to the 410-yard sixth spun back towards the hole and narrowly failed to drop for an eagle two. Thoroughly deflated, it was no surprise that he failed get up and down for par at the ninth.