CRAIG Lee has left himself under pressure heading into the final regular event on the European Tour this season.
With only this week’s Perth International remaining, the Stirling man is now just two places inside the top 110 who automatically retain their cards.
Lee dropped two spots after slipping from joint-25th at the halfway stage to finish in a tie for 56th in the Hong Kong Open.
A closing 75 at Fanling left him at one-over, 14 shots behind winner Scott Hend of Australia.
Lee, who finished 59th in last season’s Race to Dubai, isn’t the only Scot heading to Lake Karrinyup fighting to keep a card.
David Drysdale also dropped two spots, to 116th, after missing the cut in Hong Kong, leaving himself more than £15,000 short of safety.
A perennial visitor earlier in his career, the Cockburnspath man was last forced to attend the Qualifying School in 2008 after finishing 151st on the money-list.
Fifer Peter Whiteford picked up a cheque for around £8,500 after he closed with a 67 to share 20th at Fanling on five-under.
But that only lifted him up one spot to 149th on the money-list, leaving Whiteford needing to pick up more than £80,000 in Australia to have a chance of catching 110th-placed Lee Slattery of England.
Similarly, Alistair Forsyth (joint-45th), Jack Doherty (joint-53rd) and Jamie McLeary (64th) were unable to boost their survival hopes in Hong Kong. As they now gear up for one last throw of the dice, McLeary is 159th in the Race to Dubai, with Forsyth 161st and Doherty 185th.
For Chris Doak and Scott Jamieson, the other two Scots heading to Australia, the goal is to try and secure spots in the £19 million “Final Series”.
Lying 75th, Doak is 15 places outside the last of the 60 spots up for grabs in that, while Jamieson dropped one place to 80th after he made an early exit in Hong Kong.
Hend, a 41-year-old from Townsville on the north-eastern coast of Queensland, won his maiden European Tour title at the 106th attempt.
It came after a thrilling back-nine battle which culminated in a play-off with Angelo Que of the Philippines. A par on the first extra hole was enough to finally see off Que, who missed the green at the 18th hole and then under-hit his chip shot.
“This means everything,” said Hend after picking up a cheque for close to £140,000. “I’ve won five times out here on the Asian Tour, and I’ve come very close on the PGA Tour and the European Tour and finally, finally, at the age of 41, I’ve won a European Tour event. It’s very special.
“This one is for my kids. They have been sending me music messages the last three mornings. So yeah, it’s very much to be treasured.”
Earlier, Que had fired a superb approach to the 18th in regulation for his seventh birdie of the day, a round of 66 and a 13-under-par total.
Hend was also 13 under par at the time, but in rough down the left of the 16th hole, from where he did well to save par.
A good birdie chance at the 17th hole then went begging, but Hend did well to save par at the last after his approach plugged in a bunker, the Australian signing for a 67.
Ireland’s Kevin Phelan finished in third place after closing with three birdies for a round of 66 and an 11 under par aggregate total, whilst England’s Mark Foster took fourth on ten under.
Halfway pacesetter Ernie Els finished joint-fifth on nine-under alongside overnight leader Marcus Fraser.