Wednesday, 28 November 2012
John Parry  (Getty Images)
John Parry (Getty Images)
Englishman John Parry carded the joint-best round of the day, a six under par 66, to move into a four shot lead going into the final day of Qualifying School Final Stage and end Estanislao Goya’s four-day reign at the summit.

As tensions rose ahead of the exciting finale in one of golf’s most gruelling vcontests, big moves into the all-important top 25 were at a premium, leaving it all to play for in the final round for many of the 73 European Tour hopefuls who made the cut.

Parry is well on course for a return to The Race to Dubai thanks in part to a superb run of three successive birdies from the 15th - including one of only two birdies all day at the difficult par four 17th - which moved him to 17 under par.

The winner of the 2010 Vivendi Cup on The European Tour flew out of the blocks with a birdie at the first before picking up two more shots at the fourth and fifth.

Another birdie at the par five seventh took him to the turn in four under par before he dropped his only shot of the day at the 13th, but a storming finish means he is in the driving seat to become the fourth consecutive English winner of the School, after David Dixon (2011), Simon Wakefield (2010) and Simon Khan (2009).

“I have played better than that in the last couple of days to be honest,” said the 26 year old. “I hit it quite poorly off the tee but I was decent for seven holes and I was just holing putt after putt.

“From the ninth to the 14th I was quite poor. I got up and down on nine and ten for par, holed a big putt on 11 for par and three-putted at the 12th for par.

“Then I holed about a six-footer for birdie at the 15th and that just got me going a bit. I hit it to about eight feet at the par three 16th and holed it, then hit a three iron and an eight foot putt for birdie at 17.

“I got lucky here and there but the last three holes are really tough so I was happy with that. Tomorrow I’ll just play exactly the same. Now I just want to win it but obviously you only really want your card so it’s a strange tournament like that.

“I feel I have a lot less pressure now because for me to not get a card from this position would be horrific, so I almost feel my card is in the bag. I am playing well so I’m pretty relaxed for tomorrow.”

In what is one of the toughest physical tests in golf, Parry has had his fitness trainer alongside him for the six-day marathon and he attributes much of his success to that decision.

He said: “I have been doing a lot of weights every night and I have actually felt fresher than those weeks where you are just resting in the evenings.

“He has been cooking at night for me and providing the right food out on the course so going through the five rounds I have felt really good.”

Matthew Southgate is the one of the few who made a significant climb as he moved from tied tenth place at the beginning of the day to tied second thanks to a four under par 68, joining German amateur Moritz Lampert and Finland’s Mikko Korhonen on 13 under par.

If Southgate were to finish in the top 25 it would be the second year running the Englishman has gained his European Tour card at the Qualifying School.

“I played nicely again,” he said. “I put myself under a lot of pressure in round one, but I’ve managed to relax a bit and realise that I’m actually quite lucky to be here, because I only got in as a reserve and have had a really bad season. I was chuffed really just to be here.

“It’s a strange game. At one end of the scale you’ve got Branden Grace, who was here last year and is now winning everything, then at the other end you’ve got guys who also got their card here and have really struggled. I’ll just keep working hard and trying to improve, and hopefully then the results will take care of themselves.”

Lampert will turn professional straight after the Final Stage and if he were to gain a European Tour card he would be following in the footsteps of Oliver Fisher, who in 2006 came through the Qualifying School as an amateur.

“It was another good day,” said the 20 year old. “It was tiring, but a birdie to finish was great and gives me momentum for tomorrow. It’s a long week but now there are only 18 holes left and I’m in a good position.

“At this stage it’s just about hitting it straight and not doing anything silly. I’m very confident for tomorrow. I’m quite surprised how I’m feeling – I don’t feel nervous at all. It was good playing with Tano (Goya) and Andy (Sullivan) today. We talked a lot and had a lot of fun. That always helps me relax.”

His playing partner Goya struggled to maintain the kind of form which handed him the overnight lead in each of the opening four days as the Argentine signed for a four over par 76 to fall to tied 12th heading into the final day.

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