David Higgins only has himself to blame but he will remember the name Hans Peter Bacher for some time after agonisingly missing the cut by a single shot at the European Tour Qualifying School Finals in Spain.
The 39-year old produced a sterling fourth round display on the rugged Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya Resort to move inside the crucial top-70 and ties at four under for the tournament with just the 449-yard 18th to play.
However, he pushed his drive into the rough, found sand right of the green with a rescue and missed a four footer for par that would prove crucial.
Despite carding a 70 to finish tied 70th on three under par, he faced an anxious 35-minute wait to see if Austrian Hans Peter Bacher, who was three under with three to play in the final group on the Stadium Course, could pick up a shot over his last three holes and leave exactly 70 players on four under.
In the end the young Austrian went one better, finishing birdie-par-birdie to send all the three-unders, including Higgins, down to 71st place.
“That’s it then,” said a disconsolate Higgins before disappearing into the gathering gloom.
Bacher got up and down from the trees right of the par-five seventh to get to four under, parred the short eighth and then canned a 40 footer down the hill on the ninth green to seal Higgins’ fate when three-putts looked a more likely outcome.
It was a sad end to a battling day for the popular Waterville man, who had birdied the sixth, 10th and par-five 15th to get to four under par for the tournament.
He dropped his first shot of the day at the par three 16th where playing partner Knut Borsheim holed a five iron from 206 yards for an ace - the Norwegian’s second hole-in-one inside 24 hours having also holed out from the 14th tee on the Tour Course on Monday.
But after a brave birdie from 15 feet at the 17th looked to have put him safely through to the last two rounds at four under par, that final hole bogey and Bacher’s brilliant finished crushed Higgins’ hopes of a tour return next season.
The remainder Irish contenders also packed their bags for home. On the Tour Course, Ballymena’s Chris Devlin shot a two under 68 to finish 101st on one-over with Jonny Caldwell (71) and Cian McNamara (69) tied 139th on nine over.
All four Irish contenders will have category 12 membership of the Challenge Tour next year and Devlin is hoping it will be enough to secure a grant from the Team Ireland Golf Trust.
“Same old stuff for me. I played really well today and probably had six or seven lip-outs,” Devlin said. “I could not get the ball to fall in the hole all week long.
“I’ll take my Challenge Tour membership and do the best I can with it. I’ll talk to my sponsor and see what he thinks.
“I will get some Challenge Tour starts but I am not going to come over on the Monday when I just find out that I am in. If I get a few early in the year, I will probably come play because I believe I can play well enough. As far as spending the money to go to Kenya and India, that doesn’t make sense for me.
“But I am going to go ahead and apply for a grant from the Team Ireland Golf Trust and see if they can help me. Hopefully, being one fo the four guys who made it here will help my case. That will help me play more events because every little helps.”
McNamara walked away knowing that he must improve off the tee to compete at this level but he was not downcast.
“My driving is what separates me from this level and I have just got to me more consistent off the tee because I don’t see why the rest of my game isn’t good enough,” the 25-year old said.
“It’s been a very good week. I know I didn’t score well but I leave with a good taste in my mouth. It’s not as if I am coming away thinking I am way off the mark.
“But the Q-School was a lot tougher mentally than I imagined because you have only one shot at it. A mistake hurts you. In a tournament there is always next week.
“I realise that I lost the whole thing in three holes the first day when I panicked and shot 78. I made one mistake and it led to others.
“The final stage is tougher mentally than you expect because it is so hard to stop mistakes from really setting you back.”
England’s Sam Hutsby shot a one under 71 on the Stadium Course to lead by two strokes from compatriot Andy Sullivan (72) on 16 under par but Nick Dougherty failed to keep his card as he finish seven shots outside the cut mark on three over after a one under 69.