Browne targeting Italian job

Stephen Browne is hoping to take advantage of a golfing miracle and clinch his European Tour card this week

The Dubliner, 33, grabbed a place in the European Challenge Tour's Grand Final in Italy thanks to his incredible runner-up finish in the Toscana Open Italian Federation Cup at the weekend.

Now 37th ranked Browne needs to finish first or second in the €250,000 season finale to get one of 20 tour cards on offer through the money list.

Targeting the €42,800 top prize, Browne said: "I’m playing very well just now, and have been in contention quite regularly for the past couple of months.

"I usually finish the season strongly so the confidence is high and I am going to the Grand Final to win.

"I played well there in 2005 when I got my card through the Challenge Tour. I like the golf course at San Domenico and if the wind gets up there it can be a real tough proposition, which will suit me."

Browne looked likely to miss out on a place in the elite 45-man event near Brindisi, where 20 European Tour cards are on offer through the final Challenge Tour rankings.

Needing to finish second on his own to break into the top 45, he was heading for third place despite a brave birdie-birdie finish.

Finland’s Toni Karjalainen was two strokes ahead of Browne in second place coming down the 18th but ran up a triple bogey seven at Le Pavoniere Golf Club.

As a result, Browne got the solo second place he needed to earn €15,400 and surge from 71st to 37th in the rankings.

Still pinching himself, Browne said: "I did all that I could and the fact that Toni let me in with a triple bogey at the last was obviously a bonus.

"But I felt that I deserved something from it because I had played so well and finished particularly strong.

"They were some of the toughest conditions I have ever played in - it was so cold and windy, one of those days when you can hardly feel your hands, so to shoot 68 and finish was two birdies was a great effort.

“It was a bit of a shock mind you. I thought I had just missed out in the top 45 and was actually on the phone to my wife, Elaine, when I was told I had made it.

"It was a bit of a shock, but a nice one and it was good to have to change my plans to stay in Italy for an extra week."

Glasson's Colm Moriarty will also tee it up at 32nd in the rankings but needs to finish in the top three to be sure of a card.

If they fail to make it, both men will get a second chance at next month's European Tour Qualifying School Finals at San Roque in Spain.