Branden Grace carded two-under-par 70 on Wednesday to close round five of European Tour Qualifying School in a share of fourth at 15-under-par, three strokes back from EnglandÂs David Dixon.
A solid player on this yearÂs Challenge Tour, Grace looked ready to take the next step and claim one of the 30 European Tour cards on offer this week at PGA Catalunya Resort.
He was on form, but so too were plenty of Englishmen Â Richard Bland and Andy Sullivan shared fourth with the South African, while Sam Hutsby held third at 16-under.
The six of GraceÂs compatriots in contention struggled, and while Darren Fichardt kept steady in tied 15th, Warren Abery and Jean Hugo need a solid final round to move above their current tie for 34th.
Grace had a peaceful, possibly cautious start to the round, and carded pars until the 11th, where he marked his first birdie of the round.
Things went a little haywire when he made his second birdie at 13, dropped at 14 and birdied again at 15 to finalise his two-under-par tally. He closed the round with three pars and will be glad with his 70.
The 23-year-old set up the kind of foundation that allows him to either go for the win or play comfortably and claim his card, but mostly importantly, it earns him a rare privilege – breathing room as he heads into the final round of Qualifying.