Echoing Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘The Terminator’, Philip Walton surveyed the wreckage of his tour card dream and vowed: “I’ll be back.”
The 44-year-old Dubliner’s his eighth visit to the European Tour Qualifying School finals ended in bitter disappointment at San Roque when he posted a two over par 74 on the Old Course to miss the four round cut by a single shot.
A total of 80 players finished on three over par or better and will contest the last two rounds at the Sotogrande venue with the top 30 and ties earning full playing privileges for 2007 tomorrow night.
But they will not include Walton, whose short game weaknesses came back to haunt him around the turn yesterday.
As Waterville’s David Higgins survived the cut with a stroke to spare at the New Course, slipping from 23rd overnight to joint 55th with two rounds to play after a three over par 75, Walton was left to reflect on what might have been.
After a bogey five at the first, the Malahide native battled back to one over par for the tournament with birdies at the fourth and seventh holes before undoing all his good work in the space of the next six.
An uncharacteristic missed fairway led to a bogey at the eighth but he then made life difficult by failing to birdie the ninth or 10th - back-to-back par fives that produced six eagles and 86 birdies for the 76 players who tackled them yesterday.
Walton then missed two par putts inside six feet at the 11th and 13th to go to four over par and five closing pars were not enough to ensure his survival for the last two days.
“Eight, nine, ten, eleven,” Walton said. “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.”
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, but Higgins went backwards.
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 on the New Course for the last two rounds.
“I played decent enough but I just holed nothing,” Higgins said. “I was two-putting every green and you can't do that."