Waterville's David Higgins has all but resigned himself to playing most of his golf on the Challenge Tour next season after carding a four over par 76 in the fifth round of the European Tour Qualifying School at San Roque.
Eight shots outside the qualifying places on six over par, Higgins is tied for 72nd place in a field of just 80 and needs a final round in the low 60s, or a “small miracle” to have any chance finishing in the vital top 30 and ties.
"I was just bad today,” he confessed, after a round that featured three birdies, five bogeys and a double bogey six. “I never really got it going at all. I played nicely for the first few days but I didn't get anything out of it.
"When that happens, it just gets more and more difficult and I suppose I got a bit worn out. I need a small miracle now.
“That is the way it goes. I tried my best and it didn't work out. I'll probably get 14 events on the main European Tour next season and I'll play the bigger Challenge Tour events as well. That will be another 17 or so."
Brazilian Alexandre Rocha (69) birdied two of the last three holes to lead by two shots from Spain’s Carlos Rodiles on 14 under par with just one round to play.
But with horrendous weather, including electrical storms, forecast for the eighth day of event that has already been extended by two days, there is a danger that the fifth round standings could be final.
Tee times have been brought forward by 15 minutes as a precaution and if a “significant” number of players have completed their rounds before a theoretical weather delay, play could spill over into Friday.
Rocha has no worries about surviving the weather after playing in horrendous conditions at the Nissan Irish Open at Carton House this year, commenting: “If I can play in that, I can play in anything!”
Tiger Woods’ former Standford University room-mate Notah Begay III shot a one-under par 71 to lie four strokes off the pace on 10 under par with Scotland’s David Drysdale (73) and 2000 Irish Open winner Patrik Sjoland (70) of Sweden sharing fourth place on nine under.
English amateur sensation Oliver Fisher fell from sixth to eighth place after a second successive 74 but looks almost certain to earn his European Tour card and turn professional immediately.
Germany’s Alex Cejka, four times a winner on the European Tour, is just inside the top 30 and ties on two under par alongside this year’s Irish Amateur Open winner Antti Ahokas of Finland.