Rice fights on as fellow Irish exit
JUST one pair of Irish eyes were smiling in northern France as Limerick's Tim Rice did what his three compatriots couldn't and progressed to the next stage of European Tour qualifying.
Going into the final round at Golf d'Hardelot, there were real hopes that all four Irishmen -- Rice, Cian McNamara, Neil O Briain and Michael Collins -- would secure their places in November's second phase.
But in the end it was only Rice, who carded a one-over-par 72, who made it through as part of the top 18, by one stroke, while Royal Dublin's O Briain (75), Limerick's McNamara (76) and Mallow's Collins (76) missed out.
Rice had two birdies and three bogeys in the first six holes. However, he got things under control after the turn and despite dropping a shot at the 13th, held his nerve.
McNamara will be feeling the most hard done by, having started his final round in sixth. It looked plain sailing for him as he birdied the 10th, but a catalogue of errors followed and his dreams were shattered on the par-four last when he took six and missed out by just one shot.
O Briain also missed out by just a stroke as he carded a four-over 75.
Collins also began yesterday in a qualifying position, only to squander his chance of earning a Tour card by shooting a five-over 76.
The final events of European Tour first stage qualifying take place next week at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire and Ribagolfe in Portugal with a host of Irish talent involved.
Leona Maguire remains the top Irish player after round two of the World Women's Amateur Team Championship in Turkey, but the trio from Ireland slipped down the leaderboard.
At the halfway stage they are in joint 16th, 11 strokes behind leaders Korea, but only six adrift of five countries sharing second.
Maguire (17) followed her opening 70 with a level-par 72 despite three bogeys in the first five holes.
Out in 40, the Irish Champion battled back and finished with three birdies in the last four holes for an inward 32.
Stephanie Meadow had a 74; Paula Grant again posted the non-counting score but her 76 was a five-stroke improvement on her first day's score.