Sebastien Gros provided one of the biggest heartbreak stories of last year’s Qualifying School Final Stage, but the Frenchman believes now that missing the cut by one shot at PGA Catalunya Resort has proven the ultimate blessing in disguise as he edges towards guaranteed Challenge Tour graduation.
The 25 year old had a European Tour card firmly in his sights with three holes to play at the six-round marathon of golf last November, but he bogeyed the last three holes to miss out on a ticket to the big time by just a single shot.
It was a nightmare scenario for the Lyon player but he has since embarked on a dream-like start to his Challenge Tour career, claiming a maiden victory at the Najeti Open Presented by Neuflize OBC three weeks ago after two successive top five finishes at the end of May.
Those strong showings have moved him to second in the Road to Oman Rankings and a remarkable third round 63 at the AEGEAN Airlines Challenge Tour by Hartl Resort, which began with two bogeys in the opening four holes and featured eight birdies and an eagle thereafter, has moved him into contention for another title in Germany.
“It’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about Q-School again,” said Gros after his course record-equalling round on the Beckenbauer Course.
“All the people that were working with me were telling me just a week after it that maybe it could be a bad thing for a good thing, because if I have a great season on Challenge Tour and come back with another year of experience and low scores, that would be a better thing than getting through Qualifying School.
“They all said, that is going to be the best thing that happens to you, missing Q-School, but of course as a competitor just one week after that experience, you don’t accept it.
“But that’s one of the first things I said to my team after winning in Saint Omer – I understand now that it was the best thing that happened to me.
“I still have some work to do on here though, that’s why I decided not to go to the French Open this week, because I was in the field. Even if the job is 75% done, as long as it’s not done you just have to focus on that and concentrate on what you’re aiming for.”
Of his incredible moving day performance at the Hartl Resort, Gros said: “I had a pretty slow start with two bad iron shots on the two par threes for bogeys. Then I holed my second shot at the sixth – with a light wedge from 115 yards than spun back in - to move the right way again, then the way I made birdie at the seventh – holing out a chip after a poor tee shot – it was fun just golf.
“On moving day when you start badly, you want to make something happen and when those things happen, it makes me more comfortable on every shot and I just started playing very well from that time onward.
“That is my best round of the year. I did have a seven under in Madrid but that’s definitely my best moving day. I started the week slowly, playing pretty good but not holing any putts and today I was closer to the holes and had better putts.
“I want to taste that winning feeling again and two over through five today I would never have thought I would be in contention by the end of today. To say you’re trying to win is very difficult but you never know, you can have a great round but somebody but can have an even better one.
“I just have to try to get a score under par because to get four scores under par in a week is a good week. I just have to focus on the shots I’m making.”