It was a case of eighth time unlucky for Dubliner Philip Walton as he made his exit from the European Tour Qualifying School finals by the narrowest of margins at San Roque.
The hero of the 1995 Ryder Cup carded a two over par 74 on the Old Course but his four round total of four over par 292 proved to be one too many to survive the 72-hole cut and earn his place amongst top 70 and ties who will battle for 30 cards over the next two days.
Waterville’s David Higgins was one of 80 players to make it, but his three over par 75 on the New Course meant that he did so with just one stroke to spare on two over par, slithering from 23rd place overnight to a share of 55th.
Higgins admitted that he was becoming “frustrated” by his failure to convert good golf into decent results this week but unlike Walton, he at least has two more rounds to haul himself into the top 30 and ties who will earn full playing rights tomorrow night.
As Brazilian Alexandre Rocha stormed round the New Course in six under par 66 to grab a one stroke lead from Spain’s Carlos Rodiles and Scotland’s David Drysdale, Walton saw his chances evaporate around the turn.
After a bogey at the opening hole, he bounced back with birdies at the fourth and seventh but then bogeyed the eighth and failed to birdie the par five ninth and 10th holes before dropping shots at the 11th and 13th.
“Eight, nine, ten, eleven,” he sighed: “That’s where I lost it today. Four fives in a row. It's been a long haul, qualifying from stage two. It's really disappointing that I didn’t make it today because this was probably the best I've hit it for the four rounds.
“That is the way it goes. In fairness, I didn't putt all that well, even though I holed a few putts yesterday. But this won't put me off trying to get my card. I'll definitely be back here again.”
Higgins was just as frustrated to card a three over par 75 on the New Course, where he made three bogeys and failed to make even one birdie.
At two over par, he is three shots outside the top 30 and ties who will earn full playing rights for 2007 and knows that he will have to start turning his good play into low numbers if he is to make the grade.
“I played decent enough but I just holed nothing,” Higgins said. “I was two-putting every green and you can't do that. The courses are not that difficult, but you are just trying so hard that the disappointment of not doing well makes it even worse.”