Sam Hutsby’s hopes of regaining his European Tour card at the first attempt now rest on a triumphant return to Qualifying School.
The former Lee-on-the-Solent star’s Challenge Tour season ended in disappointment after he missed the Grand Final in San Domenico, Italy, because of his patchy campaign.
After agonisingly losing his card by the narrowest of margins last term, Hutsby was determined to regroup and come back stronger for the 2011 season.
He had targeted a top-20 ranking on the Challenge Tour this term, which would have instantly secured his full playing privileges on the European Tour again.
But his total of just over 36,000 euros was only good enough for 48th place on the final money list – 26,000 euros short of the last automatic qualification berth.
Some of his Challenge Tour rivals made a late charge for the top-20 in the lucrative Grand Final, however, only the top 45 on the money list were in action so the 23-year-old was left kicking his heels after missing out on an invitation.
With just three significant pay-days of at least 10,000 euros over the course of the season, it’s been a disappointing spell for the talented player who recently returned to his former coach Martin Butcher in an attempt to rediscover his form.
Hutsby started working with the Meon Valley professional for six years as a 12-year-old and recently returned to him in a bid to iron out some glitches in his game.
And although the partnership has not paid instant dividends, Hutsby has a month to get his game into tip-top shape for the annual Qualifying School scramble for places.
He was hopeful of avoiding the second stage of Qualifying School – where his brilliant performance saw him secure second place in 2009 – but after missing out on this year’s Challenge Tour Grand Final, he will now have to join around 300 other competitors bidding to come through a four-round tournament early next month.
With the finals being held in Spain, around 80 players will then battle it out over six gruelling rounds, with the top 30 players earning themselves a Tour card for the 2012 season.