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Tarling still the darling of Q School

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Ken Tarling will take a two shot lead into the final round of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School after preserving his overnight advantage with a battling two over par round of 73 in Portugal.

The Canadian admitted it was a grind at times during the third round, with strengthening winds adding to the challenge at Pestana Resort’s Vale Da Pinta course.

Tarling dropped back to five under  par at the 36-hole mark, but did not lose his cushion at the top of the leaderboard as playing partner Magnus Persson Atlevi, of Sweden, also signed for a round of 73 to stay in second position on three under par, where he was joined by Englishman Graeme Bell, who posted a one under par round of 70.

Tarling, therefore, remains on course to secure a full card for the 2015 Senior Tour season, with the top six players all earning full playing rights. He is seven shots clear of seventh position, and the 56 year old is hoping to show similar battling qualities in the final round, as he aims to fulfil his dream of playing a full schedule in Europe.

“It was very tough today,” said Tarling. “The velocity of the wind was so strong. I struggled big time today. Yesterday I felt like I was in control throughout the day, but today I had zero control.

“So it was a very good score in the circumstances. I was grinding like crazy, but given the way I was hitting it today, perhaps it was inevitable that I was over par, so I have to be happy.

“I never felt comfortable all day, so to still be top of the leaderboard is great. I’ll need to battle hard again tomorrow. We all know anything can happen, so I’ll be grinding hard again. I’d love to be in control like I was yesterday. It would mean so much for me to get a card so I just hope I can relax tonight and come out and play well tomorrow.”

Atlevi is aiming to earn a Senior Tour card at the first attempt, 33 years after he became the youngest player in European Tour history to progress from the Qualifying School at the age of 17.

After a seven-year absence from competitive action, Atlevi is slowly re-acclimatising to the rigours of tournament golf, and the two-time European Tour runner up is relishing the challenge of trying to complete the task of clinching a full card.

“It was a battle out there,” said Atlevi. “It was tricky and difficult, but for me I felt better out on the course than yesterday. I’ve not been able to capitalise on the opportunities I’ve had compared to the first day, but the feeling is good.

“I’m getting into the groove of tournament golf again. It’s hard not to let the thoughts wander off, but the game feels solid and I have a chance.

“I feel like I’m due a good day again. Ken has not got away from me either, and we will play together again, so hopefully we can play some good golf.”

France’s Roger Sabbaros posted a two under par round of 69 to move to fourth position on two under par, one shot behind Bell and Atlevi. He is joined in the all-important top six – the places that will earn full cards for 2015 – by Englishman Gary Marks, who also signed for a round of 69 following a four under par back nine of 33, which included an eagle on the tenth hole.

Marks shares fifth position on one over par with François Lamare, the Frenchman who led the Stage One qualifiers from Silves Golf, and Australian Tim Elliott. Lamare birdied the tenth hole and bogeyed the 13th in a level par round of 71, while Elliott birdied the last hole for a round of 73.

There will be 43 players competing in the final round after the 36-hole cut fell at 12 over par 225, with the players finishing in positions seven to 14 at the conclusion of Thursday’s final round receiving conditional cards for the 2015 season.

Complete third round scores (par 71)

208 K Tarling (Can) 67 68 73,

210 M Atlevi (Swe) 65 72 73, G Bell (Eng) 67 73 70,

211 R Sabarros (Fra) 69 73 69,

214 F Lamare (Fra) 71 72 71, G Marks (Eng) 75 70 69, T Elliott (Aus) 71 70 73,

215 J Sallat (Fra) 69 72 74,

216 M Wharton (Eng) 70 74 72, S Cipa (Eng) 72 71 73, D Westermark (Swe) 74 70 72, K Spurgeon (Eng) 74 71 71, M Bianco (Ita) 73 71 72,

217 B Conser (USA) 72 76 69, D Wettlaufer (Can) 74 69 74, M Guzman (Arg) 73 69 75, J Harrison (Eng) 70 72 75,

218 P Scott (Eng) 73 70 75, P Dahlberg (Swe) 76 69 73, P Martinez (Par) 74 71 73,

219 G Joyner (Aus) 72 70 77, C Grenier (Aut) 72 73 74,

220 J Sanchez (Mex) 73 72 75, P Parker (USA) 74 73 73, J Berendt (Arg) 74 75 71, A Macdonald (Eng) 73 69 78, S Bennett (Eng) 76 75 69,

222 P Gresswell (Eng) 76 75 71,

223 K Smith (Can) 75 74 74, K Hutton (Sco) 78 71 74, J Nougues (Arg) 71 72 80, K Hinton (Eng) 73 70 80, J Murphy (Eng) 73 72 78, R Fish (Eng) 70 75 78, S East (am) (Eng) 72 72 79,

224 P Romero (Esp) 77 72 75, R Franco (Par) 76 76 72, P Dugeny (Fra) 77 73 74, G Norquist (USA) 75 77 72,

225 S McNally (Eng) 75 69 81, Y Nilsson (Swe) 72 76 77, M Hallberg (Swe) 75 75 75, M Reynard  (Eng) 78 71 76,

226 B James (USA) 77 73 76, D Ray (Eng) 75 78 73, A Firman (Eng) 78 69 79, D Narveson (USA) 71 77 78, J Laforce (Can) 72 78 76,

227 I Lyner (Eng) 73 75 79, J Davila (Esp) 78 73 76,

228 A Saddington (Sco) 76 72 80, L Perrins (RSA) 73 69 86,

229 M Belsham (Eng) 77 78 74, G Milne (Eng) 76 79 74, T Cooper (am) (Eng) 77 71 81,

230 D Pearce (Eng) 77 75 78,

231 M Deboub (Alg) 77 79 75,

232 J Drummond (Eng) 74 81 77, N Robson (am) (Sco) 79 77 76,

233 F Grosset-Grange (Fra) 74 80 79, R Adams (Eng) 76 78 79, R Tlhabanyane (RSA) 79 74 80,

234 M McLean (Eng) 81 75 78, T Söderberg (Swe) 75 78 81, D James (Sco) 79 73 82, N Gold (am) (Sco) 77 78 79,

235 J Evans (Eng) 78 77 80, D Berry (Eng) 81 79 75,

236 J Lubieniecki (Pol) 79 77 80,

242 T Tirkkonen (am) (Fin) 80 82 80,

245 R Briars  (Eng) 82 84 79,

246 A Jarrett (Eng) 82 80 84