Renato Paratore was delighted to play his way into contention on day two of the 2023 KLM Open as he bids to bounce back from the heartbreak of how 2022 ended.
The two-time DP World Tour winner lost his full playing privileges last year by the narrowest of margins, missing out on a card by one place as he finished 118th in the Rankings.
He arrived at the Portugal Masters 121st, knowing he needed a good week to get inside the top 117 and avoid a trip to the Q School.
Rounds of 68-66-70 put him in a good position heading into Sunday and when he drained a 58-footer on the last to sit 118th, he faced an anxious wait.
There were times on Sunday in Vilamoura when the fluctuations on the leaderboard moved him inside the line but the dreaded 118th was where he would end his season and a trip to the Qualifying School for the first time in eight years beckoned.
A good start in Spain meant he was just one shot outside the magic top 25 and ties after days one and two and was on track to regain his card after the third and fourth rounds before a penultimate 74 left him six shots outside the line.
Just as in Portugal, he showed all his battling qualities under the most intense pressure after starting on the tenth, picking up five shots in six holes before the turn and then two more on his second nine in a 64 that reignited his chances of keeping his card.
But when the dust settled it was more heartbreak, with his 16 under par total leaving him a single shot outside the top 25 and once again the first man on the wrong side of the line.
I want to play on this Tour. Every tournament I get in, I’m going to play
The Italian has split his time between the DP World Tour and the European Challenge Tour since that double disappointment, with a tie for seventh at the Abu Dhabi Challenge in April his best result so far.
But he looked to be back to his best at Bernardus Golf on Friday, as he produced a second successive 68 to sit two shots off the lead at the halfway stage.
Paratore finished with a flourish too, carding a hat-trick of birdies at the seventh, eighth and ninth, and draining some monster putts in the process.
He was happy with his day's work and thrilled to be back in contention on the DP World Tour.
"It’s been a wonderful day," said Paratore. "It was tough today but I played so solid tee-to-green.
"I was three under after nine and then I made two bogeys but it was not easy. I made three really, really great putts for a perfect minus four.
“I want to play on this Tour. Every tournament I get in, I’m going to play.
“I think it’s been two years without being in contention. Finally I am, I’m so happy, I can’t wait to play on Saturday."