Sam Hutsby remains on course to regain his full European Tour card after his rediscovering his blistering form at Qualifying School.
The former Lee-on-the-Solent man was runner-up in the marathon six-round event in 2009 to secure his card but then missed out on retaining it by just one place in the 2010 campaign.
That left him battling on the Challenge Tour this term and a disappointing season meant a trip back to Qualifying School where he had to come through the second stage before even getting to PGA Catalunya in northern Spain.
But a stunning 10-under par opening round of 60 – his lowest round in tournament golf – has set him up to dominate the rest of the field.
And while he enjoyed a two-stroke advantage when the cut was made after four rounds, he suffered a major wobble on the front nine of yesterday’s fifth round but recovered in style to shoot a level par 72 after being four over par at one stage.
He goes into today’s final round in third place – just two strokes behind leader David Dixon
Knowing a top-30 finish will be enough to regain his card, Hutsby followed his opening 60 with rounds of 69, 68, 71 and 72.
And the 23-year-old remains intent on winning the event to rejoin the elite in style for next season, and return with the highest possible ranking to gain more entries.
Hutsby said: ‘It’s been a tough couple of years since I got my card here in 2009.
‘But I recently went back to my old coach Martin Butcher, who I’d been with since a junior, and my game’s turned around.
‘We’ve changed a few things and simplified my game, and my confidence is back up.
‘I decided to make a few changes after turning pro to try to take my game to the next level and it was probably a mistake.
‘I should’ve stuck to the principles that had worked through my amateur career but instead I tried to change a few things all at once and ended up getting a bit lost.
‘But now I’ve gone back to Martin and worked really hard with him and I’m starting to get back to where I was.
‘I played well at the second stage last week and I have carried that form here with me.
‘It’d be nice to go one better than two years ago and win this week.’
With the cut made after four rounds at four under par, Rowlands Castle’s Darren Wright found himself on the wrong side of the qualifying mark with a four-round total of six over – after a disastrous six-over par 78 in the third round saw him come up short in his quest to join the European big guns.
Considering he only turned professional in the summer, it was a valiant attempt.
And simply reaching final qualifying should see him gain Challenge Tour entries next season.
For Hutsby, meanwhile, his 16 under par total after four rounds gave him a two-shot lead from compatriot Andy Sullivan and perhaps an eight-stroke cushion on what will be the final qualifying berth.
After his 71 in the fourth round, Hutsby said: ‘It’s disappointing not to have broken 70 again because my goal was to shoot six rounds in the 60s.
‘But I’m still in a great position, so if I can smooth out some of the rougher edges and cut out the silly mistakes, I should be there or thereabouts at the end.
‘It’s been a long week already so fatigue may have played a part but the last few holes are pretty tough.’
After finding himself four over par after 10 holes yesterday, Hutsby then hit back with four birdies in seven holes to rescue himself from slipping further down the field.