Englishman John Parry secured his return to The European Tour in swashbuckling style by winning the Qualifying School Final Stage by four shots courtesy of a two under par 70 in the sixth and final round.
The 26 year old began the day four shots clear and his lead was never threatened at PGA Catalunya Resort in northern Spain, where 28 players earned their playing rights for The 2013 European Tour International Schedule.
The gruelling event has become synonymous with drama over the years, and this edition was no different, providing emotions at either end of the spectrum. Young Englishman Chris Lloyd saved the best until last with a five under par 67 to make a late jump into the qualifying spots, and Scot Callum Macaulay holed fantastic putts on the 17th and 18th greens to finish on six under par, one shot inside the mark.
However, another Scotsman, George Murray, was in despair after missing a short putt on the last, a double bogey meaning he missed out by one shot.
At the top of the leaderboard though, Parry soared to a convincing win, posting four birdies and two bogeys to finish four ahead of Mikael Lundberg, who closed with a 69, and six clear of Andy Sullivan, who repeated his 2011 performance in taking third place.
“I’m delighted,” said Parry, who won the 2010 Vivendi Cup but then lost his card the following season after finishing 126th in The Race to Dubai. “I knew I had my card sewn up before today started, but I was going for the win and I’m happy to have got the job done.
“It was nice to do it with a bit of a cushion going into the last few holes. I played pretty poorly for the first seven holes. The first two I made good up-and-downs and I was lucky to have a shot out of the trees on the third and made birdie there.
“I was playing too negatively, and I think the bogey on the seventh gave me a bit of a kick to start playing how I was in the previous rounds. After that it was plain sailing.”
Parry, who is the fourth consecutive English winner of the Final Stage, following Simon Khan (2009), Simon Wakefield (2010) and David Dixon (2011), believes the presence of his fitness trainer during the tournament was an important factor in the victory, as was the decision to arrive at PGA Catalunya Resort six days before the first round for some intensive practice.
“It’s been great having my trainer here and he has guided me through the week,” he said. “It’s easy to think with six rounds to play the down-time should be spent relaxing, but I’ve been doing weights every evening this week and I feel great. Even today I felt very fresh.
“I arrived nearly a week before the start, so I was able to get five full practice rounds in and it has turned out to be a good move.
“I’ve been playing like this for the last couple of months, but the difference this week was my putting. I’ve been working hard on all areas of my game, but on my putting in particular, so it is nice that it is paying off.
“I’ll be playing the next couple of weeks in South Africa, so there won’t be much time to reflect on this, but after Christmas it looks like I’ll have a good few weeks off so my break can come then.”
Lundberg was five shots back at the start of round six, and admitted he was just relieved to be finished after a long and tiring week.
“I started really nicely, but lost a bit of concentration on the tenth and 11th, where I had my only two bogeys of the day,” he said. “I knew it was going to be difficult to catch John, so I’m just happy to take second place and finish the week with a Tour card. It’s a relief.”
Peter Erofejeff shared fourth spot with Argentine Estanislao Goya and German amateur Moritz Lampert, and the Finn was glad to be able to return home in time for the birth of his first child.
He said: “The baby was due yesterday and I agreed with my wife that if it came early I would stay here and play. So I’m very glad it hasn’t happed yet. I’m absolutely delighted and it’s going to be a very exciting few months coming up.”
Former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson finished with a level par 72 and a three under par aggregate score, two shy of the required mark. Scotsman Gary Orr became the oldest player to win a card at the Qualifying School Final Stage, at 45 years and 202 days, 20 years after he first achieved the feat.