Padraig Harrington and Michael Hoey are bracing themselves for an end of season treasure hunt at opposite ends of the European Tour food chain.

Dubliner Harrington will tee it up in this €3.5 million Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland bidding to land the title for the third time and kill off rivals in the race for the Order of Merit crown.

But Hoey will be battling at the other end of the scale as he fights to make the top 20 in the Challenge Tour rankings who will earn tour cards at the end of the season.

Just €228,317 ahead of Ryder Cup team mate Lee Westwood, Harrington will tee up with JP McManus in the pro-celebrity event knowing that victory would make him virtually uncatchable ahead of the season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama.

Ulsterman Hoey, 29, missed a golden opportunity to earn a main tour return when he slipped from first to sixth in the Dutch Futures in Holland on Sunday.

Needing at least €15,000 to earn his card, he’s hoping that consistent performances in the last three Challenge Tour events will be enough to get him over the line.

As he prepared to head to France for this week’s AGF-Allianz Open de Toulouse, Hoey said:  “I have two smaller events and then the season ending Grand Final so a win in one of those would be enough.

“But I may not have to win if I am consistent and that is what has been letting me down this season since I won in Morocco in May.

“It has been a horrendous season in terms of consistency. I had a win but I haven’t followed it up with the top fives you need.”

Hoey’s fellow Ulsterman Gareth Maybin is third in the rankings following his win in China three weeks ago and guaranteed his tour card.

And Hoey hopes to join him in the big leagues next year, despite that fact that he is feeling fatigued after a long, hard season.

He said: “I was a bit tired after the trip to China and Kazakhstan but I am pleased that I am keeping the game simple and natural.

“Hopefully I can take advantage in the last three events but if I don’t, I still have another chance at the Qualifying School.”

Fatigue will be a factor in the race for Harry Vardon Trophy with Westwood feeling the pinch after losing the British Masters in a play-off with Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño at the Belfry on Sunday.

Westwood could have cut the gap on Harrington to just €100,000 had he earned his first win of the season.

But with his hangover from the Ryder Cup caught up with him, chasing down the Dubliner will be a huge effort now.

Westwood said: “I felt I am at the end of my tether and running on empty, so to get in a play-off was good.”

While Graeme McDowell remained sixth in the Order of Merit race after a tired performance at the Belfry, Ryder Cup stars Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Henrik Stenson too the week off and will be raring to go in Scotland where the winner will pocket at least €550,000.

Order of Merit race
1 Padraig Harrington €2,350,556
2 Lee Westwood €2,122,239 (228,317 behind Harrington)
3 Robert Karlsson €1,994,436 (356,120 behind)
4 Miguel Angel Jiménez €1,990,609 (359,947 behind)
5 Henrik Stenson €1,773,617 (576,939 behind)
6 Graeme McDowell €1,714,882 (635,674 behind)

Events remaining
This week: Alfred Dunhill Links (Winner €557,500)
9-12 Oct. Madrid Masters (Winner €166,660)
16-19 Oct. Portugal Masters (Winner €500,000)
23-26 Oct. Castello Masters Costa Azahar (€333,330)
30 Oct - 2 Nov. Volvo Masters (€708,000)