Chris Lloyd (Getty Images)
Dreams were made and broken during another dramatic final day at the Qualifying School Final Stage but there was no story more incredible than that of Chris Lloyd, who birdied three of his final four holes to snatch a golden ticket to The European Tour.
The young Englishman, who suffered the agony of missing the cut by one shot at the Final Stage last year, stepped onto the tee at the sixth – his 15th – knowing he required something special to move into the reckoning for a European Tour card. And how he produced the goods. Lloyd missed the sixth green with his approach at the 411-yard par four but when he nudged a wedge from the fringe and into the hole, suddenly the blood was coursing through his veins and the adrenaline carried him all the way to top 25 glory, via a dramatic birdie at the tough final hole.
“The big turning point for me was at six,” said the 20 year old. “Then I got up and down for birdie at the par five (seventh). “I had made an eight on the ninth hole at the end of my fourth round and I got on the tee this time around and asked my caddy for a new ball. So he threw me a new ball and I looked at it and the number on it was eight! I started laughing on the tee and saw the funny side of it, which was good.
“I pulled my tee shot a little but I was in the semi-rough and then I hit a perfect five iron on to the green - as soon as I hit it I knew it was good. I still left myself with a bit of a stinker of a putt, seven or eight feet downhill with a one and a half foot break. It was just a deadweight tap to let the break take it. It was just special when it went in, relief more than anything else. “I really let myself down in my first round shooting three over and then to finish the fourth round with an eight was so disappointing. I was thinking, ‘is this going to be another near miss for me?’
“I stayed so patient and apart from the first day I have just got better and better as the week has gone on. That second shot into nine to finish was just class. “It felt like the putt I had was for my card and I have never felt pressure like that before. It was a unique feeling. I was so pumped, even though I had to hit it so softly, but I was very relieved when it dropped.”
Callum Macaulay also produced one of the great moments of the 2012 Qualifying School Final Stage at the difficult 18th hole, having rolled in a 15 foot putt for a crucial par at the 17th. The Scotsman, at the time, needed a birdie at the 463 yard par four, something he had not done all week in three attempts.
He was left with a three iron to the green and when it flew 25 feet past the hole just off the putting surface, his hopes were looking slim. But the 29 year old pulled it out of the bag before a roar of ‘get in there’ rang around the stunning Stadium Course.“I just had to get the putt going and it straightened up with about six feet to go and rolled in,” he said. “My emotion just got the better of me then.
“When I saw it straighten up I thought, ‘this is it’. I'm just delighted to be back playing on The European Tour again. To be honest, there were times in the last two years when I thought I would never be back there again and my game was going backwards, but I cannot wait to get back.”
His compatriot George Murray, however, provided the tale of sorrow at PGA Catalunya in a dramatic finale as the cutline for European Tour cards switched back and forth between five and six under par with the players on the bubble nearing the end of their rounds.
Having missed a putt for par at the 18th, his playing partner Gary Orr slipped his own par putt past the hole - which dropped the final cut-off point to five under. But that fact was possibly unbeknown to Murray and his nightmare was completed when he missed a two foot bogey putt to drop to four under and miss out on a card by one shot.