Carlos plays it cute to extend Q-School lead

11/14/2013 5:05:53 PM
Carlos Del Moral  (Getty Images)
Carlos Del Moral (Getty Images)

Love was in the air at The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage as Carlos Del Moral, with the help of some complimentary words from his caddie girlfriend, soared to a commanding four shot lead thanks to a seven under par fifth round of 67.

The Spaniard moved to 21 under par after another stupendous round which included no less than eight birdies, thereby virtually securing his return to The European Tour and a fourth promotion via the Qualifying School in the last six years.

With the top 25 and ties at the conclusion of the final round earning European Tour status, the dreams of many were still hanging in the balance in Girona, north-east Spain.

The cut-off point for promotion sits at eight under par currently, with six former European Tour winners including James Morrison, Mikael Lundberg and Alastair Forsyth all inside the mark while former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson is just one shot outside the crucial number heading into the final round.

Once more, though, it was Del Moral who stole the show as he followed up a stunning fourth round 63 by again claiming the best round of the day over a Stadium Course which he has played three times this week, gaining 17 shots to par along the way.

The 28 year old has his girlfriend Karin Dedering on the bag this week and he believes that she has played a huge part in his success as he looks forward to a full season on The 2014 Race to Dubai.
“I have struggled a lot this year and so I decided that no one knows me better than my girlfriend and she’s a great golfer too, a scratch handicap, so she knows what she is doing,” said the Qualifying School specialist.

“She is very supportive and it has been very emotional for both of us, first of all playing for just a Challenge Tour category at Second Stage and then here for a European Tour card, so hopefully we can have an unforgettable finish tomorrow.

“She is a great putter and every time I have a doubt I ask her. She knows my game and my distances very well and she is doing great as a caddie. She gives me that emotional support too and if I have a bogey she might come and say, ‘you’re cute’, so it cheers me up. It’s really nice to have her out there.”

The Stadium Course itself is proving something of a second love for the romantic Valencia native and he is hoping for another stress-free day as he looks to become the first Spanish winner of Final Stage since 2006, when Carlos Rodiles topped the qualifiers.

“I’m not stressed at all on that course,” he said. “I'm playing every shot really calm and positive and I'm not making many mistakes out there.

“I feel like if I have any putts between five and ten metres I have a chance so I don’t need to go for pins and when you don’t have to go for pins it’s a lot easier. I have got a lot of trust in my putter and hopefully it will be the same tomorrow.”

Four shots back in second place is Chile’s Fabrizio Zanotti, who signed for a four under par 68 to move to 17 under par and also virtually guarantee a return to The European Tour, having finished 140th in The 2013 Race to Dubai.

“I’m in a good position but tomorrow I need to do more of what I have been doing these last few days,” said the 30 year old. “I need to hit it shot-by-shot and stay patient. It is going to be a long day again so you just have to do your best.

“It is a little tiring. We have already played five rounds and we’ve still got one to go, but I think the Q-School is a fair tournament. It is a very good way of deciding who is going to play on The European Tour.”

While 32 players currently sit inside the cut mark for a European Tour card on eight under par or better, there are likely to be twists and turns aplenty in what is always one of golf’s most dramatic finales.

A number of young guns are chasing their first shot at European Tour stardom, including young Irishman Kevin Phelan, who starred in the 2013 Walker Cup as well as the US Open Championship in June, where he briefly flirted with the top of the leaderboard before making the cut.

Phelan is currently one shot off the mark on seven under par after a round of 70 while promising 21 year old Belgian and protégé of Nicolas Colsaerts, Thomas Pieters, is on course for a rookie season on The European Tour after a four under par 68 moved him to tied tenth on eleven under.