South African Desvonde Botes goes into the final round of the European Tour Qualifying School Finals with a six-shot lead as he heads the charge to earn a place on next year’s European Tour International Schedule.
The 26-year-old, who ten years ago became the youngest winner of the South African Amateur Championship by shaving 20 days off Ernie Els’ record, fired a fifth round 70 to move to 16 under par. He leads teenager Nicolas Colsaerts by six with Kiwi Elliot Boult a further shot adrift.
Botes has missed only ten greens all week and continued to pepper the flag in the fifth round at San Roque, picking up three birdies and just the one dropped shot.
“I’ve been playing well but still to be 16 under par after five rounds, I’m more than satisfied.,” he said. “I’ve just been striking the ball really well. I feel I know where the ball is going because I’m hitting a lot of greens and then the putts go in.
“Confidence breeds confidence. It’s just snowballing”
Colsaerts continues to hold his own on the leaderboard just a week after his 18th birthday, grinding out a round of 73 to remain in second place. His birdie on the par five fifth was cancelled by a bogey amd on eigth and he dropped another shot when he hit his second shot on the tenth out of bounds with a three wood. But eight pars later left him right on track to earn a place on the European Tour just a few days after turning professional.
“I’m quite tired,” he said. “ This is the first time I’ve played six rounds. I started well like every day but didn’t hole any putts. Today and yesterday were grinding scores. Still I’m happy with my game.”
Boult started the day “a little edgy” with two bogeys after hitting his first four fairway shots of the day fat but settled on the back nine to return a round of 72 to remain at nine under par.
“I needed to consolidate with a good round so I can relax tomorrow,” he said. “ I got it round today but it wasn’t pretty. I got the job done. I’m not looking forward to tomorrow but with one round to go I’m a lot more at ease.”
Former English Amateur champion Shaun Webster, who narrowly missed out on earning his Tour card through the Challenge Tour, shot a raced to the turn in 32 thanks to two birdies and an eagle on his way to a round of 69 to move to eight under.
Scotland’s Graham Rankin and Australian Brett Rumford, who won the Australian Players Championship as an amateur, both shot 67’s the best rounds of the day to move to four under and six under respectively.
The top 35 and ties earn their card for next season. Among the players currently lying outside the top 35 and needing a strong final round are the two former Ryder Cup players in the field – Philip Walton and Steven Richardson, and European Tour winners Stuart Cage, Russell Claydon and Andrew Sherborne.5th round scores