Simon Khan made the 72-hole cut at Qualifying School Final Stage to keep his dream of a European Tour return alive, with fledgling professionals Adri Arnaus and Robert MacIntyre also producing notable performances after four rounds of the golfing marathon.
England’s Khan, a two-time European Tour winner, made the cut on the two under par mark after a three under par round of 68, with 74 players now set to contest the final 36 holes on the Lakes Course at Lumine Golf Club before the top 25 and ties secure Race to Dubai status for 2018.
Ahead of him, compatriot Sam Horsfield leads the way on 15 under par, one shot ahead of fellow Englishman Charlie Ford whose seven under par 64 was the round of the day in Tarragona.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Arnaus – who only turned professional this week – continued his excellent 2017 form, which already saw him win the Alps Tour’s Order of Merit.
The 23 year old reached five under par to comfortably make the cut, one of four Spaniards to do so on home soil, including Gonzalez Fernandez-Castaño – who has fellow seven-time European Tour winner Alvaro Quiros caddying for him this week.
Scotland’s MacIntyre was delighted to have secured himself a full Challenge Tour category for next season by making the cut just two months after he represented Great Britain & Ireland at the Walker Cup.
Another man happy to have secured Challenge Tour status was Jonathan Thomson, who will become the tallest player on the European Tour if he gets a card this week – standing at 6’9”, the Englishman is now in a share of third place on 12 under par.
“I gave it everything today. It was one of the toughest days I’ve known and I’ve played really well all week, holed a couple of putts today, and to shoot three under today, I’ve done all I can and I’m quite proud of myself.
“There are still 36 holes, a long way to go, and I’m going back a long way now but I remember San Roque in 2001 when I shot a 65 in the fifth round, so it can be done and I’ll try to draw on that – I know what I can do, it’s just about getting the putter a bit warmer.
“It’s been a really odd year. It’s been my first time without a full European Tour card for 15 or 16 seasons and you see things from the other side, it’s tough.
“Getting calls late, not really knowing your schedule, not knowing what’s going on really. I haven’t had any momentum or felt like I’ve got anything going.
“Normally my ball striking is the strongest part of my game and even that hasn’t been there this year, but this week I came out really early and I just started getting it going – I’ve been hitting it probably the best I’ve hit it in a few years actually. It would be great to get a card now and kick on with this next year because I’m feeling good again.”
“It has been my goal to make the cut and get on to the Challenge Tour so everything is a bonus from here on in.
“The first four days were going to be an absolute grind so I just said to myself ‘if you make the cut you have achieved something’. I am now within touching distance of getting the full card.
“I played really well late on in my amateur career but I have actually struggled quite a lot this week. Tee to green I have been really poor but my short game saved me.
“When you are having an off-week you need the short game to be there, so with two rounds to go I am just going to see what happens. “This year has been a slow progression. My whole career has been moving in the right direction and this is just the next step.”
“It has been great season for me. I was really happy with my performances throughout the year on the Alps Tour, where I won the Order of Merit on the last event, but I thought it was a good time to turn pro this week and that here was the best place to do it.
“I have been playing really good this week. I have made a couple of mistakes each day, but hopefully I can cut those errors out over the last two days.
“I feel that I have a really good chance over the last two days and to get a European Tour card would be very special.”
“It was good out there today. I got off to a great start again by holing a few decent putts, but then I made a double bogey at the 13th which knocked my confidence a bit.
I just stayed patient though as I knew that I could get a few more coming home. “It has been a really good four days for me. My game has been in decent shape over the last few months so I came here in a very good frame of mind.
“The goal at the start of the year was to get off playing on the EuroPro Tour. I have achieved my goal by making the Challenge Tour, but I am now going to push on to try and get on to the European Tour.”
“I played pretty solid last week at Second Stage and the courses this week have just really suited me. I felt really confident coming in and I feel like my game is in a really good place right now so I just want to keep it going over the next two days.
“I haven’t really looked at a leaderboard all week. I left a few out there today – I think I hit 17 greens in regulation so I had a lot of opportunities. I just need to keep doing this over the next two days, make some putts and I will hopefully be alright.”