Hutsby closes in on return to big time

Sam Hutsby. Picture: Mick Young
Sam Hutsby. Picture: Mick Young
Harry Ellis. Picture: PA Images

Ellis crashes out of US Amateur Championship

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Sam Hutsby is on course to return to European golf’s elite after his latest impressive performance.

The 25-year-old former Lee-on-the-Solent man secured a third top-10 finish in six weeks after he finished in fifth place at the Rolex Trophy in Geneva to earn another healthy payday of 9,000 euros.

That meant Hutsby climbed the rankings to 13th place on the Challenge Tour, with the top 15 at the end of the season automatically promoted to full playing privileges on the PGA European Tour.

His rounds of 65, 71 and 71 placed him in a tie for ninth going into the final round of the tournament.

And he produced another fine display with six birdies in his five-under-par 67 to end on 14 under par, five strokes behind the winner – South Korean Byeong-hun Am.

Manager Brian Roake believes Hutsby is benefiting from belief and confidence as he heads to Galgorm Castle for the Northern Ireland Open Challenge this week.

Roake said: ‘He’s been playing really well recently.

‘He played really well in Russia, where he got his best result as a professional and had another good result last week in Switzerland.

‘There’s no major change that he has made to his game. He has just been working so hard and has gained that bit of extra confidence.

‘It makes a real difference if you are feeling that bit more confident. It gives you that bit of belief.

‘He seems settled with his game at the moment and professional golfers are always happier when they are winning money!’

Since Hutsby lost his card in 2012, he has endured a tough period in trying to get his career back on track.

But he rediscovered his best form recently with a runners-up spot in Slovakia last month to pick up more than 17,000 euros.

Then he netted fourth place at the Russian Open on the European Tour to seal 50,000 euros – the biggest prize money haul of his career from a single tournament.

If he can maintain his form over the next month, Hutsby may not need to make his annual visit to Qualifying School in PGA Catalunya, where he has prospered in the past.

But he may have the luxury of making the trip, having already secured a card and could then improve his category to earn his place in even more tournaments in 2015.

Meanwhile, Darren Wright’s hopes of a first win on the third tier of European golf – the Europro Tour – ended in disappointment.

The Rowlands Castle pro led the field going into the final round at Prince’s, Kent in the World Poker Tour Invitational.

After opening with a level-par 72, eight birdies in his second round 66 gave him a one-stroke lead as he set his sights on victory.

But he was unable to hit that same standard on the final day of the 54-hole event as he carded a 76 to end in a tie for 16th place at two under par.

His playing partner on the last day, Peter Tarver-Jones, eventually lifted the title.

The result left Wright in 49th place in the Race to El Gouna standings, where the top 60 money-winners will be eligible to play the season finale in Egypt and potentially earn themselves a Challenge Tour card for next season.

Lee-on-the-Solent’s James Ablett was also in the same tournament and finished one stroke behind Wright in a tie for 27th.