Scotland’s European Tour contingent in 2016 will be bereft of young blood for the second season running after eight card hopefuls came up empty-handed in the Qualifying School near Girona.
Fellow 24-year-olds David Law and Paul Shields ended the six-round marathon at PGA Catalunya two and four shots respectively outside card-winning positions, with Peter Whiteford, the only other Scot to survive the 72-hole cut, sandwiched between them.
It leaves Law and Whiteford facing another season on the Challenge Tour, where they will be joined for the first time by Shields as he emerged as the only member of the tartan army to leave the north-east of Spain with something to celebrate.
“I’m very disappointed to miss out,” admitted Law after carding a closing 72 for a five-under-par total, finishing 13 shots behind Spaniard Adrian Otaegui, American Daniel Im and South African Ulrich van den Berg as they finished locked together at the top of the leaderboard.
A couple of shots outside a card-winning spot at the start of the day, the two-times Scottish Amateur champion from Aberdeen opened with nine straight pars.
He then had two birdies and two bogeys in the next five holes before finishing with another run of regulation figures.
“Today was the best I played all week today only to putt really poorly,” he added.
Law, who is mentored by Paul Lawrie and is attached to his golf centre on the outskirts of the Granite City, will now look to improve on finishing 66th and 70th on the second-tier circuit over the past two seasons.
“Although it doesn’t feel like it just now, maybe the best thing for my progress is another year on the Challenge Tour to improve and hopefully come back stronger next year,” he said in showing admirable maturity.
As playing partner Edoardo Molinari, the 2010 Scottish Open champion, showed his class by coming home in four-under 32 to be among the 27 card winners, Shields ended his first full Qualifying School experience, having progressed all the way from one of the first-stage events to the final, with mixed emotions.
“On the one hand, I’m gutted that after all that work I missed out by only four shots,” said the Kirkhill man. “But, on the other, I’m over the moon to be moving on to the Challenge Tour.
“Qualifying School is a weird and wonderful week. I don’t really know how to put it in to words, but it’s a mind game more than golf!”
Trying to regain the main Tour card he lost at the end of the 2014 season, Whiteford finished with a flourish, coming home in 33 for a two-under-par 70.
Otaegui, a 22-year-old who is mentored by Jose Maria Olazabal and won the 2010 British Boys at Barassie, finished with a 68 as he finished on 18-under alongside Im (71) and van den Berg (68).
Other card winners included Irishman Paul Dunne, who led The Open at St Andrews this year heading into the last round, and Swedish amateur Marcus Kinhult.
For the 2016 campaign, which starts in South Africa next week with the Alfred Dunhill Championship, Scotland will have nine full European Tour card holders.
Marc Warren, Richie Ramsay, Stephen Gallacher, David Drysdale, Craig Lee, Paul Lawrie and Scott Jamieson all finished inside the top 110 in this season’s Race to Dubai.
They were then joined by Andrew McArthur and Jamie McLeary as they finished 12th and 15th in the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman.
Drysdale, Lee, Jamieson and McLeary are all among the entries for the season-opener starting at Leopard Creek next Thursday.
Of the nine, Jamieson, who turns 32 next week, is the youngest.