European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage specialist Carlos Del Moral continued to revel in the pressurised atmosphere of the six-round epic after a superb nine under par round of 63 saw him storm into a one stroke lead at PGA Catalunya Resort.
That continued a fine run of form at this event, which has seen the man from Valencia claim his card here in three of the past five seasons, and he is once again ideally placed at 14 under par to claim a Race to Dubai berth for next season if he can continue in this vein of form.
Seven birdies and an eagle on day four were what did it for Del Moral, who prefers playing the supposedly tougher Stadium Course upon which he played so well on day four.
His three on the par five 15th typified his love for the Neil Coles and Angel Gallardo-designed lay-out, firing a pin-point five iron on the 492 yard hole to a mere 12 feet before rolling in the putt to rubber stamp an exemplary day.
With the final 36 holes set to be played on the same course, the Spaniard is clearly looking forward to the task at hand, and to continuing the form that has seen him hurtle once again into contention for a European Tour card in Girona.
“I was talking to my girlfriend and saying that I feel much more comfortable playing this tougher Stadium Course,” said Del Moral, having earned his card at this event in 2008, 2010, as well as 12 months ago. “I just feel a lot looser playing it. The Tour course feels a little small so now I can just enjoy the next two rounds, which is nice.
“My play at this event is something that I have never understood as patience isn’t one of my best qualities, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense that I play really good Q-Schools because you need a lot of that for six rounds of golf. I’ve just been staying really calm, trying to focus on every shot, and today felt a lot freer so I’m really happy and I’ll try to do more of the same.
“I’m looking forward to the next two rounds on this course, especially when the other guys seem to think it is tougher. I know it sounds silly, but I don’t feel like that. I seem to know this one much better, but they are both great courses so I have nothing to complain about.
“I’m just going to try and do the same, to stay very level as there are so many emotions out here. You don’t want to go too up and down, up and down because then you will go mental, you just need to stay low key for every shot.”
One stroke adrift of the leading Spaniard are England’s Daniel Brooks and Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay who both went low on day four, after rounds of 66 and 68 respectively on the Stadium Course.
They are one ahead of a further trio of talent, with overnight leader James Morrison (70) alongside first round pace-setter Edouard Espana (67) and two time European Tour winner Patrik Sjöland (67) in a tie for fourth.
Aside from the battle for top spot, there was also plenty of movement further down the field as players duked it out for a share of 70th place and better in order to qualify for the final two rounds at PGA Catalunya Resort.
The cut eventually came at two under par, seeing 71 players advance to the final 36 holes in Spain, with Niccolo Quintarelli making one of the biggest moves of the day having started one stroke outside the eventual cut mark.
Playing the Tour Course, the Italian took full advantage of the apparently easier setup to card 11 birdies, a bogey and a double en route to the joint low round of the week after Espana also shot 62 on day one.
Such scintillating play saw the Italian rocket up the leaderboard, leaping a total of 44 places and into a tie for 14th place, with the top 25 and ties claiming a European Tour card come week’s end.
Another man to have made a big move in the past two rounds is American Brinson Paolini, who finished on 11 under after 72 holes thanks to rounds of 68 and 64 on the Stadium and Tour Courses, respectively. Compatriot Tain Lee also made a big jump, carding a 64 of his own to move up 48 places and into a share of 18th place.
As a result Lee, Paolini and Quintarelli are all in an extremely strong position, as is Daniel Im, who made serious gains of his own on Friday thanks to a six under par round of 64 on the Tour Course to climb into a tie for 41st.
It was heartbreak though for the likes of European Tour winner Anton Haig (74) and Tom Whitehouse (75), with both falling below the cut mark on day four, while Björn Åkesson (67), 2011 Qualifying School Final Stage winner David Dixon (71) and Joakim Lagergren (74) all bogeyed their final hole to miss by a single stroke.