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By Brian Keogh
Damian Mooney. Photo by Golffile
The Staysure Tour appears poised to announce the revival of the Irish Seniors Open as part of Ireland’s 2026 Ryder Cup countdown.
The tournament, which was last staged at Carton House in 2010, features on a provisional 2020 schedule from August 23-25 with the venue yet to be decided.
Former Ryder Cup players Paul McGinley, Des Smyth and Philip Walton are all regulars on the over 50s circuit but the race to earn just five cards for 2020 continued at the Final Stage of Staysure Tour Qualifying School in Portugal yesterday.
Belfast's Damian Mooney leads the Irish challenge in the 72-hole event after the opening round at Pestana Golf Resort’s Pinta Course.
He shot a level par 71 to lie just three shots outside the top five in joint 15th, six shots behind Spain’s Carl Suneson, who overcame persistent shoulder problems to lead by one shot from Canadian David Morland IV and Englishman Mark Booth.
Brendan McGovern. Photo by Golffile
However, it was more of a struggle for Headfort’s Brendan McGovern, who was tied 62nd after a five-over 76, and Kilkenny’s Jimmy Bolger, who shot a seven-over 78 to lie joint 75th.
A former European Tour winner, Suneson (52) carded eight birdies and two bogeys and revealed afterwards he had addressed physical limitations that impacted his performance over the previous two seasons on the Staysure Tour.
“I’ve had two years with bad shoulders and that has set me back a bit,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot on physiotherapy. I had a lot of tension that went down to my shoulders and I stopped playing golf for four or five years.
"I couldn’t move them. It’s scary how bad my elasticity was. Some people told me to operate, and I’m thankful I didn’t.
“You’ve got to go to physio. You think you can do it by yourself but you can’t. You need to push it to the limit all the time and bit by bit it gets the slump in the shoulders out.
“Over the past three or four months I’ve been playing better and better and I’m hitting it a lot better, so, if you hit it well then doors open. You hit more fairways, make more putts, and the attitude changes.”
Kiwi Michael Long and Scottish amateur Euan McIntosh round out the top five qualification spots after carding rounds of 67 and 68 respectively.
Suneson has one goal in mind, despite sitting at the top of the leaderboard in a pressure-packed week.
“I told myself before we started that I wanted to win by 12,” he said. “With only five cards available, you can’t afford to think about anything but winning, you just have to go for it.”
Staysure Tour Qualifying School Final Stage, Pestana Golf Resort (Pinta Course, Par 71)
65 C Suneson (Esp),66 M Booth (Eng), D Morland Iv (Can),
67 M Long (Nzl),
68 E McIntosh (am) (Sco),
69 S Little (Eng), G Marks (Eng), A Raitt (Eng), S Brown (Eng), C Monasterio (Arg),
70 R Coceres (Arg), P Wilson (Eng), A Bossert (Sui), R Ponce (Ecu),
71 V Casado (Esp), Damian Mooney (Irl), P Blaikie (Sco), C Baron (Eng), S McGreal (Eng), M Young (am) (Eng),
72 F Lamare (Fra), J Inman (USA), M Wharton (Eng), J Bevan (Eng), S Bebb (Wal), S Henderson (Sco), P Scott (Eng), M Bianco (Ita),
73 R Benitez (Esp), S Cipa (Eng), J Romero (Esp), D Westermark (Swe), C Gomez (Esp), M Stimson (Wal), T Spence (Eng), G Milne (Eng), S Wilkinson (Wal), G Manson (Aut), J Sallat (Fra), C Corrigan (Eng), J Murphy (Eng), C Hunsucker (USA), G Joyner (Aus), F Almskoug (Swe), B Smith (Eng), G Wolstenholme (Eng),
74 G Pietrobono (Ita), C Ronald (Sco), J Cheetham (Eng), M Belsham (Eng), S Bishop (Eng), N Cavalheiro (Por), D Wettlaufer (Can),
75 N Cheetham (Eng), M Watson (Eng), G Ghei (Ind), N Mitchell (Eng), M Kierstenson (Eng), A Collison (Eng), M Reynard (Eng), D Prosser (Eng),
76 M Spooner (Eng), J Carro (Esp), R Tinworth (Eng), Brendan McGovern (Irl), N Sweet (Eng), J Kemp (Eng), S Chauffour (Fra), A Hill (Eng), B Austin (Eng), S Bennett (Eng), M Hjelte (am) (Swe),
77 A Sherborne (Eng), J Arruti (Esp),
78 Jimmy Bolger (Irl), F Guedra (Alg), C Dinsdale (am) (Wal), M Denton (am) (Eng),
79 J Ripley (Eng),
82 F Isola (Bel),
DQ D Berry (Eng)