Comeback king Keith Nolan came up an agonising three shots shy of earning his PGA Tour card.

But all was not lost as the dream-seeking Bray boy proved the doubters wrong to grab his place on the Nationwide Tour next season.

Nolan, 33, closed with a one under par 71 in the final round of the National Qualifying Tournament at PGA West Stadium to finish tied for 46th on five under par.

He beamed: "This just proves that all the people that have had faith in me, had faith for a reason. I have a great opportunity for this coming year

"My family back home in Ireland and my wife and three kids have always believed in me.

"I am older, wiser and I think better for what I have gone through this week. I am excited but tired and I feel ready to put the clubs away for a few days."

While he was gutted to miss out on a PGA Tour card handed to the top 30 and ties, Nolan earned a full card for the second tier Nationwide Tour.

He added: "I am going home happy, but missing out on a PGA Tour card by just three shots over 108 holes is hard to swallow.

"I played great for five days but my putter did not make up for a bad round on Sunday.

"Looking at it overall, at least I can say that I am a world away from where I was at the start of the year."

Nolan had no status on any tour at the beginning of this season and managed to pre-qualify for just four Nationwide Tour events - the second tied US Tour where 62 players earned over $100,000 this season

Just 12 months ago he couldn’t even afford the entry fee for the Q-School as he reached his lowest ebb since he turned pro in 1997.

But he showed his fighting qualities to scorch through the first two stages of the Q-School and then come within just three shots of regaining place alongside Tiger Woods and Co next year.

His performances in California must go down as one of the great Irish performances under pressure this season.

After rounds of 72 and 73 he was paired with two-time US Open champion Lee Janzen in the third round and outscored him by ten shots - 67 to 77.

A fourth round 68 left Nolan tied for 16th place and poised to earn his PGA Tour card with just two rounds remaining.

But he paid a heavy price for a fifth round 76 and left himself much work to do on the final day to join the 40 players who eventually made that top 30 and ties.

Nolan said: "I had no idea what I needed to shoot on the last day. I just tried to play one shot at a time.

"Fairways and greens was my mantra all week and that’s all I thought about out there."

In the end he fired five birdies, two bogeys and his one double bogey of the week in that final round 71 on the Stadium Course at La Quinta.

Florida's George McNeill took the top card when he finished on 23 under par - five shots clear of Robert Garrigus.

European Tour regular Anders Hansen of Denmark shared fourth place on 15 under while Germany's Alex Cejka completed a Q-School double on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cejka came through the European Tour School finals in Spain last month before crossing the pond to grab his PGA Tour card by two shots with a final round 68 at PGA West Stadium.