A total of 73 players earned a chance to battle it out for a European Tour card in Girona from November 24-29 as they emerged from the 303 taking part in Second Stage, which was hosted at four different venues across Spain.As ever, there was tension aplenty with play-offs taking place at each venue to make or break the dreams of a select few of those hoping to ply their trade on the biggest stage in Europe in The 2013 Race to Dubai.
Amongst those to claim spots at the death were American Scott Pinckney, who gained a European Tour card for the 2012 season via Qualifying School but failed to retain it, Ondrej Lieser, who is hoping to become the first Czech player in history to gain a European Tour category, and the only Norwegian on The European Tour last season, Knut Borsheim.The winners, meanwhile, had no such stress as they soared to the top of the leaderboard, all carding final rounds of 66 or better.
Sluiter, who almost claimed a maiden Challenge Tour victory last month but was pipped in a play-off by Chris Doak at the ALLIANZ Open de Lyon, signed for a five under par 66 to win by a shot at Las Colinas Golf & Country Club with a score of 16 under.A total of 19 players qualified for Final Stage at Las Colinas, including former US Amateur Champion Byeong-hun An and two of Sluiter’s compatriots Daan Huizing, who finished runner-up, and Taco Remkes.
Jamie McLeary, a former winner on the Challenge Tour, finished three shots clear at Campo de Golf El Saler thanks to a final round 66 which left him on 10 under par in total.Amongst the 17 players who finished behind McLeary and sealed their path to Final Stage were experienced Swede Pelle Edberg and two Irishmen David Higgins and Simon Thornton as well as one Northern Irishman in Gareth Shaw.
Ravano’s six under par 65 earned him the bragging rights at Elle Valle Golf Resort as he finished one shot clear on 12 under par and he will be joined by three-time winner on the Challenge Tour in 2012, Sam Little, as well as 2009 Walker Cup team mates Sam Hutsby, who finished runner-up in Final Stage last year, and Luke Goddard.Bond’s remarkable record in Qualifying School continued as a six under par final round 65 handed him victory in El Lumine Golf & Beach Club, having won First Stage at Frilford Heath earlier this month.
Zane Scotland, who became the youngest English player to qualify for The Open Championship in 1999, also qualified from Lumine, as did former Walker Cup player Niall Kearney of Ireland and England’s Tom Murray, son of former European Tour winner and Senior Tour regular Andrew Murray.Those who made the cut will be joined by exempt players as they return to Spain for the gruelling six round marathon of Final Stage, with the best 25 players (and ties) gaining a Category 11b Membership of The European Tour and those making the cut after four rounds earning a category for the Challenge Tour.