Jonathan Caldwell's bid to regain his European Tour card was given a major lift in the third round of the qualifying school final at PGA Golf de Catalunya near Girona.
While Kilkenny's Gary Murphy leads the Irish challenge in a share of 22nd, Clandeboye golfer Caldwell clambered up the field with a four-under 68 on the tough Stadium course for a two-under 212, four shots outside the card-winning top 30 with 54-holes still to play.
Caldwell came through the q-school marathon a year ago to earn his place at the top table.
Despite losing his playing rights this season after a testing rookie campaign, the 25-year-old is confident he will be far better equipped for the rigors of the European circuit in 2010 should he succeed in his card quest again this week.
“I'd rather not be here but if I can get my card back then I'll go out on tour again with much more confidence,” said Caldwell, who made his move up the order with a four-under outward half of 32.
“I believe I'm a much wiser player and my all round game is better. This was a very good score and just what I needed.”
With Caldwell moving up the leaderboard, Murphy dropped back as he failed to take advantage of the inviting, calm conditions. The 37-year-old, seventh at the start of day three, had to settle for a level-par 70 for a six-under 206 and fell eight shots behind halfway leaders, Simon Khan and Charlie Ford, who finished locked on 198s.
Dublin's Niall Kearney posted a two-under 68 for a four-under 208.