The Englishman’s final round of 66 came courtesy of a back nine flourish which yielded four birdies and moved him into tied second place for the tournament, one shot behind winner Espen Kofstad.The 26 year old, who suffered a car accident one month after turning professional eight years ago, leaving him out of action for two years, was dumbstruck when he learned that he had made the climb into the top 21.
It came courtesy of a nerveless six foot putt for par at the 18th, which he had to make to complete his meteoric rise to The European Tour after just one season on the Challenge Tour.
“That putt at the last just summed up how I was feeling for the entire back nine – absolutely petrified,” he joked. “I was very nervous standing over that and I couldn’t really feel anything. I was just very happy and very relieved to see it roll in.
“I said to my girlfriend, who’s caddying for me, at the start of the week that we’re just here to enjoy it and try to make a few quid. I’ve done that and come out with a European Tour card to boot. It’s the stuff of dreams really.“Up until today I was thinking about preparing for the Qualifying School, so I can’t really put into words how delighted I am right now.”
Seve Benson was another player who experienced the joy of making a jump into the top 20 at the 11th hour, his final round 68 moving him to tied seventh spot for the tournament and to 20th place from 28th in the Rankings.“I am just shocked actually,” said the Englishman on hearing the news that he had made the grade. “I didn’t think I would get anywhere near to be honest.
“It is great news though. I am really happy. There are a few things I want to improve next year, looking back on this season.“I want to put four rounds together. I did that this week and a couple of times this season, and when I do that, I think I get the results.
“I have learned so much from the three years I was on The European Tour and this year on the Challenge Tour. I've learned so much about myself.
“I will approach tournaments differently next year. I still know I am a winner after the Barclays Kenya Open and that is a big thing. You can have good days and bad days but if you keep picking up wins then you still have it so that was the highlight this year.”Justin Walters also moved into 15th spot in the Rankings from 23rd after finishing in tied fifth place at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, while Max Kieffer and Eddie Pepperell improved on their positions after positive finishes in Italy, moving from 18th to 13th and 20th to 14th in the Rankings, respectively.