Sunday, 23 October 2016
Mikko Korhonen  (Getty Images)
Mikko Korhonen (Getty Images)

The highs and lows of life on the European Tour are rarely more visible than at the end-of-season chase to secure playing privileges for the next year.

The top 111 players in the Race to Dubai after the Portugal Masters kept their cards and once again we were presented with great drama.

With 109th and 110th-ranked Craig Lee and Eddie Pepperell missing the cut and the man in the final spot, Zander Lombard, not teeing it up at Victoria Clube de Golfe, the opportunity was there for those on the outside looking in to make their moves over the weekend.

Finn Mikko Korhonen did it in style, going out in the final group on Sunday and finishing in a tie for third, moving from 116th to a comfortable 86th on the Race to Dubai.

Oliver Fisher also made it with relative ease as he moved from 114th to 110th, while Jason Scrivener became the third and final man to move into one of the coveted spots, going from 113th to 106th.

At the other end of the spectrum was Graeme Storm, with the Englishman entering the week 115th in the standings and making an eagle and three birdies in his first 17 holes to get the right side of the line.

A closing bogey, however, resulted in him finishing in the dreaded 112th spot - just 100 euros from keeping his card.

"It was nerve-wracking, to put it in two words. But I survived," said Korhonen.

After seven birdies in his first 13 holes, Fisher was in contention for the title but he dropped shots on the 15th and 16th before claiming two closing birdies.

It was nerve-wracking, to put it in two words. But I survived - Mikko Korhonen

"It's a tough week, coming in knowing that you have to have a decent finish to retain your playing rights," he said. "I'm very relieved right now.

"It's a shame I bogeyed 15 and 16. I started thinking about things there and missed the drive on 17 but hit a great wedge. It was good to hit that wedge and get that drive on the last.

"But it's difficult, it's difficult to keep it going under the circumstances. I'm really pleased with this performance."

Scrivener finished 117th last season before coming through the Qualifying School, something he will not face this year after two closing birdies.

"I'm really happy with the way I played and happy to have a job next year," he said.

"I was just trying to play solid, I played really well all day and just didn't really hole any putts until the last two holes but I'm happy.

"The more times I can be under pressure and perform well, I think it's good for my confidence. It's been a really up and down year but I'm happy to finally pull through. I love playing in Europe."

While some players were battling to get into the top 111, others were battling to stay in it.

Chris Hanson had missed just three cuts in his first 19 events of the season but left himself on the bubble after failing to make the final stages of the Porsche European Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

He slipped from 105th to 109th this week but a closing 66 helped him keep his card in his rookie season and the Englishman admits it has been tense.

"It's just incredible," he said.

"Today I think I probably had to shoot a decent score to hang on to a card and did that. The first hour was pretty nice and the next two hours, I've never felt my heart beat like that, ever. I don't know how to explain it other than that. Now I've kept my card.

I've never felt my heart beat like that, ever. I don't know how to explain it other than that. Now I've kept my card - Chris Hanson

"It's overwhelming and I'm just excited about the future."

Scott Jamieson found himself on the bubble for the second season in a row after finishing 106th in 2015. He arrived in Portugal in that position and a tie for 50th saw him finish the season in 108th.

"It's obviously a big relief," he said. "It's nice to sneak over the line just at the end but it's obviously not where I want to be.

"At the end of the year I want to be more at the top end of things and not having to have sleepless nights or whatever it may be.

"There's going to be a lot of guys that just miss out. Some of them good friends, as well. I feel for them."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HARRINGTON, PadraigIRL18-23
T3HANSEN, AndersDEN18-21
T5ROCK, RobertENG18-20
T5LIPSKY, DavidUSA18-20

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