On another engrossing cut day at the Qualifying School Final Stage, American Daniel Im and Italian Niccolo Quintarelli were two of the big winners as they showed the requisite nerve at crunch time to not only earn their place in the final two rounds but also climb into contention for European Tour promotion.
The fourth day at the gruelling six-day marathon is always an exciting one as the axe falls and the 156-man field is chopped, with the top 70 and ties making it through to the final two days.
The cut sat at two under par for much of the day but at one point it all came down to Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl in the last group. If the Dane had shot over par for the day then he could have moved the qualifying mark back a shot, but a level par 72 meant the seven players on one under par were eventually left disappointed.
Im was one of those to make big gains in round four as he signed for an impressive six under par 64 to move from outside the cut mark on one over par to inside it on five under.
The Californian is now looking forward to pushing ahead and vying for a European Tour card after the disappointment of missing out on graduation from the Challenge Tour on the final day of the season less than two weeks ago.
“Coming into the day one over I knew I had to give it a good score,” said the 28 year old. “The weather held up and I saw the cut line at one so I knew I had to do something.
“Since Oman on the Challenge Tour I've been really flat but I kept practicing and I never lost hope. I just kept grinding and today everything just fell into place. I made some putts and I birdied the first so I just said to myself, ‘let’s do this’.
“I kept it going and on seven, I chipped in with a great chip for eagle and then you think things are going your way, but you just never know with this game.
“I guess you can take the disappointment of the Challenge Tour Grand Final both ways. I was inside the number going into the final week but I didn’t play well and I had to come to Q-School but at the same time, I get another chance at getting my European Tour card.
“The first few days here I was losing hope a little but I had a good rest in Barcelona after Dubai and had some fun with Agus (Domingo) and my brother and we had some good tapas and ham!
“I have to give it a go now. I'm not here to finish top 50. I'm here to get my card so I can go after it now full throttle. I'm really looking forward to the next few days but hopefully the weather will hold up.”
Quintarelli, meanwhile, carded one of the rounds of the day as the 24 year old fired an incredible 11 birdies, including five in a row, to move from one under par to nine under at PGA Catalunya Resort.
The Venetian said that it was one of the rounds of his life as he climbed to tied 13th place, with the top 25 and ties earning European Tour status at the conclusion of this week’s gruelling six-round marathon.
“I played awesome,” said Quintarelli, who finished 97th in the Challenge Tour Rankings this year. “I was looking forward to today after shooting one under on the Stadium Course on day three and I played one of my best rounds of golf in the last few years so I’m very happy about that.
“I holed a lot, struck the ball good, so I’m very happy. My irons were very good today, especially the short irons which were unbelievable, and I hit a lot of those inside ten feet or so, and even left tap ins a lot of the time, so my long game was pretty perfect really.
“Also, when I had to hole a long putt, I did so. It really was a perfect round apart from that double bogey at the 15th. But anyway I had a great last three holes, finishing birdie-par-birdie, which was awesome.
“I just want to keep trying to do my best the last two rounds, to try and earn my card, and we’ll just have to see what happens as I am feeling positive and playing well so I think I can do it.”
Some others who made the climb inside the qualifying mark to at least guarantee a Challenge Tour card for the 2013 season as well as a shot at European Tour promotion over the next two days included Tain Lee. The American carded a stunning eight under par 64 on the Stadium Course to climb from level par to eight under overall.
Englishman Ben Evans also ensured another two days’ play at the stunning resort near Girona in Spain after a five under par 65 on the Tour Course moved him to two under and just inside the cut line.