There were plenty of potential suitors closing in on Estanislao Goya’s overnight lead as the Argentinian teed off on the third morning of The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort.
With conditions predicted to deteriorate from Tuesday onwards in northern Spain before the field is cut to 70 and ties after the fourth round, the 156 competitors taking on the 108-hole examination in Girona will know that a low score in Monday’s third round could prove crucial in setting up a successful week.
Goya, who added a one under par 71 on the difficult Stadium Course on Sunday to maintain his first round lead, teed off at 1100 local time on the Tour Course – along with the rest of the top half of the field after the re-draw – with a group of ten players just one shot behind on six under par as the morning progressed.
Ireland’s David Higgins began with an eagle at the par five tenth hole to briefly move alongside the Cordoba man at the top before a bogey at the following hole, as early birdies for Swedes Oscar Floren and Joakim Lagergren, German amateur Moritz Lampert, and a brace from England’s Sam Little, saw a congested Final Stage leaderboard continue to tighten as the marathon contest neared its half-way point.
Tjaart van der Walt, the man who only missed out on retaining his European Tour playing privileges by a mere €693, came flying out of the blocks, too, with a quartet of birdies to start before a bogey at the testing par four 15th saw him slip back to five under par for the tournament, two shy of Goya’s increasingly under-threat lead.