Warren Abery began the final round of European Tour Qualifying School in a share of 34th, but gritted his teeth and carded 68 to close the event in 16th place and claim one of the 37 Tour cards awarded.
ÂIt has been a rollercoaster, I got off to a good start in the first three rounds and then round four and five you feel like the tournament should be finished so you lose of lose focus but I came back nicely today to get it,Â he said.
At the close of the grueling 108-hole tournament at PGA Catalunya Resort it was Branden Grace, Darren Fichardt, Alex Haindl and Tjaart van der Walt who celebrated alongside Abery on Thursday.
A total of 957 players took part in the Qualifying School. Of the 37 qualifiers, 17 will be making their debuts on The European Tour next year, with Spaniard Adrian Otaegui the youngest rookie at 19 years and 24 days old.
EnglandÂs David Dixon won the event, and the English went on to claim the top four spots on the leaderboard. Dixon added: ÂIÂm really chuffed to come out on top. I hit some good shots and bad shots, and the back nine was a bit of a rollercoaster, but thatÂs the way it goes.Â
Composure, that intangible strength which wins golf tournaments, was evident in Abery on Thursday, and after his round he said: ÂI didnÂt really put too much pressure on myself, if I didnÂt get my card itÂs not exactly a train smash, if I get my card itÂs a bonus.Â
After a birdie at the first, Abery had a confident front stretch and made a birdie hattrick from the 3rd to the 5th, which launched him to his first taste of 11-under.
He bogeyed straight after the turn, and failed to hold on to a birdie at 12 when he dropped again at 13. But Abery stayed steady and made birdies at 16 and 17, dropped at 18 and signed for 68.
The 38-year-old was excited for his upcoming European Tour season, and added: ÂItÂs great to be back on Tour, I know what to expect now. ItÂll be a little bit easier going to venues that I’ve played before. And there are a lot of South Africans on the Tour who IÂm good friends with so itÂll be good fun.Â