Ahead of the 25th Challenge Tour Grand Final, we bring you five of the best final charges where rank outsiders sealed European Tour cards thanks to a late push in the season-ending event.
2012: James Busby – 45th to 16th
In 2012 the top 20 players at the end of the Challenge Tour season graduated to the European Tour, and the most eye-catching move in the Rankings during the Grand Final that year came from James Busby.
The Englishman was the last man in the 45-player field, and after missing the cut in three-straight events leading up to the Grand Final, the odds were stacked against Busby making the top 20.
However, after rounds of 66-67-67-66, including four birdies on the final nine of his season, the Shropshire native finished in a share of second place and rose 29 places in the Rankings to secure his European Tour card for 2013.
Speaking at the time, Busby said: “I said to my girlfriend, who was caddying for me, that we’re just here to enjoy it and try to make a little money. I’ve done that and come out with a European Tour card to boot. It’s the stuff of dreams really.”
2013: Jamie McLeary – 33rd to 15th
Jamie McLeary headed into the 2013 Grand Final knowing he needed to finish at least tied second with only one other player to stand a chance of making the all-important top 15.
After three rounds, the Scot was tied for third and in prime position to make a final surge from 33rd into the European Tour spots. He claimed the outright lead after 13 holes on the final day, having carded four birdies, but dropped a shot on the 15th to move back to tied second.
With no room for error, McLeary parred the final three holes to take a share of second, and when the dust settled, the man from Aberdeen emerged with the 15th and final European Tour card from the Class of 2013.
2014: Jérôme Lando Casanova – 38th to 13th
Five years ago Jérôme Lando Casanova made an unbelievable move to claim his European Tour card, after an opening round of 78, six over par, put a huge dent in his European Tour hopes. The Frenchman, who began the week 38th in the Rankings, turned his week around with closing rounds of 66-68-69, including a birdie on his final hole, to take second place in Dubai and grab the 13th spot in the Rankings.
2015: Callum Shinkwin – 23rd to 13th
In 2015 Callum Shinkwin was eight places short of reaching the top 15 before the Grand Final but made up the difference to seal his European Tour card, aided by back-to-back rounds of 68 over the weekend, which helped him move into a share of third and jump ten places up to 13th in the Rankings, sealing a debut campaign on Europe’s top tier.
2018: Pedro Figueiredo – Final hole
Pedro Figueiredo was not far off the top 15 when he teed it up in the Grand Final last year. With 72 holes remaining in his Challenge Tour campaign, the Portuguese player, who had sealed his first Challenge Tour victory earlier in the year at the KPMG Trophy, began the season-ending event occupying the 17th position in the Rankings.
As the tournament wore on, Figueiredo found himself embroiled in a multi-player battle for the last European Tour card. Walking up the final hole of the season, he knew he needed a birdie to have any chance of passing Tom Murray and Max Orrin in the Rankings.
The Portuguese rolled in his 20-foot birdie putt, moving from tied 17th to tied 13th on the Grand Final leaderboard, which earned him over 3,000 additional Ranking points, and consequently saw him claim the 15th and final European Tour card by a margin of just 604 points— proving just how important every shot is at the Challenge Tour Grand Final.