Philip Walton crashed out of the European Tour School by a whisker but insisted: “I’ll be back.”
The hero of the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill slumped to a two over par 74 at San Roque to finish on four over par and miss the 72 hole cut by just one shot.
Waterville’s David Higgins struggled to a 75 on the New Course to survive with a shot to spare on two over.
But it was a disappointing day all round for the Irish duo as Brazilian Alexandre Rocha scorched into a one stroke lead on 11 under after a sensational 66.
For Walton, however, the dream of winning back his tour card is over for another year.
He sighed: “I lost it around the turn with 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.
“I struck it really well but that is the way it goes. I missed a few short putts over the four days, which you can't do at this level.
"It's hard to say what's missing from my game. There are a 156 guys here and you have to be on top of your game.
“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.”
Walton, 44, bogeyed his first hole on the Old Course but birdied the fourth and par-three 12th to lie comfortably inside the top 70 and ties who will play the last two rounds of the 108-hole marathon.
But his round failed to take off around the turn and after dropping a shot at the tough eighth, he failed to birdie the par five ninth and 10th holes.
At the ninth, he was just short of the green and no more than 35 feet from the hole in two blows.
But he took three more to get down from there, scuttling his third with his broomstick putter some 10 feet past the target.
At the 10th, he hit an arrow straight drive but ran through the fairway into the rough and failed to make birdie from there.
A poor tee shot and the next led to bogey and when he missed a short par putt at the 13th, he needed to pick up shots coming home but played the last five in par figures instead.
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 tomorrow night.
He groaned: “I played decent enough but I just holed nothing. I was two-putting every green and you can't do that.
“This is not much different to a normal tournament but it is just frustrating me.
"It is disappointing when you are playing well and you know the guys you are playing with are not playing any better but are still a few shots ahead of you.
“You are not nervous or anything because the courses are not that difficult but you are just trying so hard. Then the disappointment of not doing well makes it even worse.”