it WAS a last-day tale of ecstacy and agony in Girona. There was joy for Callum Macaulay, in particular, and also Gary Orr as they secured coveted cards for the 2013 European Tour. But, while Orr survived a last-hole bogey at the Qualifying School to extend his run on the circuit to 21 years, Fifer George Murray suffered a sickening blow at the death in the six-round marathon.
Virtually from the off at PGA Catalunya, former Scottish Amateur champion Murray sat in a card-winning position, along with Orr, only to see his bid end in despair. A short missed putt on the last cost him a double-bogey six, meaning he fell short by one shot.
But, as Murray, who tied for third in the Dunhill Links Championship last year, heads back to the Challenge Tour next season, Macaulay is moving in the opposite direction after the Kincardine man repeated his 2008 feat – at the first attempt – following a “crazy” finish to his final round.
He was tied for 25th, the qualifying limit, with two holes to play and holed a “massive” par putt from around 15 feet at the 17th before rolling in a 22-footer from off the back fringe for a closing birdie.
In the end, the 28-year-old, another former Scottish Amateur champion, made it with one shot to spare after a closing 71, tying for 20th, just ahead of Orr on five-under after the 45-year-old from Helensburgh signed off with a 73.
“It is an amazing feeling and I let out a roar of delight as the putt dropped at the last,” said Macaulay. “This definitely feels better than winning my card for the first time in 2008. Then [having entered the Qualifying School as an amateur], I had nothing to lose, whereas this time I felt I had everything to lose.
“Regaining my European Tour card is massive. In the middle of this year I had started to doubt myself and wondered if I was pursuing the right career as I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere on the Challenge Tour. I was working hard but felt as though I was running into a brick wall all the time. Winning my card changes a lot of things. I’ll be playing against the best players in the world again and I can’t wait.”
While he came close to winning in his rookie season – he finished second in the 2009 Madeira Islands Open – Macaulay is confident he is now better equipped for his second stint at the top table. “I know what it is like on the main Tour now,” he said. “It’s not going to be unchartered territory for me this time.”
The 2008 Eisenhower Trophy winner, who had his wife, Claire-Marie, caddying for him in Spain, is the third Team Scottish Hydro member to secure a European Tour card in two seasons after Craig Lee and Chris Doak both graduated off the Challenge Tour.
After a celebration at home this weekend, Macaulay, along with the likes of Orr and Tour School winner John Parry, will be heading to South Africa next week for the event there that marks the start of the 2013 campaign.