Sam Hutsby’s quest for a new European Tour card is back on course.
The 24-year-old professional looked set for a year on the Challenge Tour again next season after a disastrous season among Europe’s elite.
But the former Lee-on-the-Solent man appears to have found his missing form in Spain – just when it really mattered.
And after coming up with a fine display at the second stage of Qualifying School, he will now get the chance to earn his 2013 playing privileges at the final stage of qualification – an end-of-season junction he has twice before come through to book his place on the Tour.
Hutsby’s game has been some way short of its best in 2012, with his earned prize money totalling just 30,000 euros from 18 top-flight events.
And his poor run of form saw him make just one halfway cut in 13 attempts – spanning from May to September – to leave him in 205th place in the Race to Dubai, and some way off the 118th position to retain his playing card.
His lowly standing meant Hutsby even missed out on automatic re-entry to the final stage of Qualifying School.
But the former Walker Cup player eventually delivered in style, coming up with a tied third-place finish at El Valle, Murcia, that books his place at PGA Catalunya from November 24-29, when the field will battle for the last remaining 25 cards on offer.
That looked some way off, however, after day one of the four-round contest as he stumbled to a three-over-par 74.
But Hutsby showed character as he hit back on day two with six birdies.
Although four bogeys hampered his progress as he recorded a two-under round of 69.
Hutsby improved again on day three as he fired a 68 to take him into the top 10.
But he saved the best until last as he rattled in six birdies in a classy 65 in the final round to secure a tied third-place result – five strokes clear of the cut-off point for qualifiers.
Hutsby posted his thoughts on his Twitter account as he wrote: ‘I was proud of how I played to qualify for final stage of Q School.
‘I pulled it out the bag when it was needed.
‘It was the best I have played all year and I could have broken 60 if my putter was hot.’
Now with some of his confidence restored, Hutsby will bid to build on his return to form at this week’s South African Open.
The Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate in Johannesburg will host a lucrative event with a hefty 1,000,000 euros up for grabs in the prize pot.
And while many of the leading professionals in the world are heading for Hong Kong, Ryder Cup hero Martin Kaymer – who famously holed the putt that saw Europe retain the trophy – will be in a powerful field that is packed with homegrown talent.
Former US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel will lead the South Africa challenge as they chase another home win.