Hutsby and Wright lead the charge for European Tour places

Sam Hutsby. Picture: Rob Atkins
Sam Hutsby. Picture: Rob Atkins
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Sam Hutsby and Darren Wright have kept alive their hopes of securing a European Tour card for next season after they both came through the second stage of Qualifying School in Spain.

Former Lee-on-the-Solent player Hutsby cruised through thanks to a brilliant second-round six-under-par 66 which saw him lead the event at the halfway stage.

He eventually finished on 12 under par to claim a tie of sixth place and seal one of the 20 qualifying berths for the marathon showdown at PGA Catalunya starting on Saturday.

Rowlands Castle’s Wright – who only turned professional recently – left it late to grab his spot.

But he produced a fabulous five-under par back nine in his final round to card his own 66 and finish at 10 under par – two strokes clear of the final qualifying position.

The duo – who were both playing at Costa Ballena – were among 81 qualifiers from four different courses and now take their place alongside 75 exempt players at the final stage.

The top 30 – and ties – will be guaranteed entry to many of the most lucrative tournaments on the European Tour next season.

But the competition is fierce, with ex-Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst and former European Tour winners Nick Dougherty and Scott Drummond among those looking to regain their full playing privileges.

Hutsby came through the six-round decider in style in 2009 and missed out on retaining his card by the narrowest of margins in 2010.

But he will be keen to end the season with a flourish after a disappointing year on the Challenge Tour.

It’s a new experience for Wright, however, who insists he is not worried by some of the big names he will be up against in the battle for places.

He said: ‘The way I look at it is I’m an up-and-coming, confident young professional, whereas a lot of the guys are there because their golf hasn’t been good enough this year.

‘I can’t look at it, see these names and think about what they have done in the game in the past.

‘They are at Q School for a reason and because they have lost their card.

‘I’m there for a different reason.

‘I’ve played well to get there, so I just need to try to enjoy it. If it happens, it happens.

‘If it doesn’t, then at least I’ve tried and given myself the opportunity.’

Wright is brimming with belief after his remarkable run at Costa Ballena which saw him fire five birdies in six holes.

But now he is determined to seize his chance to join European golf’s elite.

He said: ‘I was buzzing – especially after my finish.

‘I just kept the momentum going and I got on a birdie run.

‘It’s given me massive confidence but now I need to finish the job.

‘I feel this is definitely my year and I know my game is good enough to do it.’