Paul Shields produced one of the best last-day performances among an army of hopefuls as five Scots progressed to the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School in Girona later this week.
The Kirkhill player signed off with an eagle and five birdies in a flawless 64 at Lumine Golf to join Jack Doherty in progressing from there, while David Law, Bradley Neil and Ross Kellett were also successful at the three other second-stage venues.
Shields, a two-times beaten finalist in the Scottish Boys Championship, finished joint-third on 16-under-par, three behind Englishman Daniel Gavins, while former Australian Amateur champion Doherty also qualified comfortably in eighth spot after closing with a 67 for a 13-under aggregate.
Irishman Paul Dunne, who shared the lead as an amateur going into the final round of this year’s Open Championship at St Andrews, was also among the qualifiers at Lumine Golf thanks to a closing 67, but the non-qualifiers included Scottish duo Daniel Young and Neil Henderson, as well as Frenchman Romain Langasque, winner of the Amateur Championship at Carnoustie in June.
Law, a two-times Scottish Amateur champion, finished joint-fifth at El Saler after a closing 73 - he started and finished with a bogey but had two birdies in between - for an eight-under total. “I played good golf all week on a demanding course and am delighted to be through,” he said.
“Now I’m really looking forward to the experience of playing in the final stage for the first time and, with a Challenge Tour card secure for next year (through finishing 70th on the second-tier circuit money-list this season), I’ve nothing to lose there.”
Englishman Jimmy Mullen, one of the stars of Great Britain & Ireland’s Walker Cup win at Royal Lytham in September, underlined his confidence by finishing four shots clear in that field on 16-under, but his team-mate Gavin Moynihan missed out along with former Scottish Amateur champion Michael Stewart.
Confirming that he has started to feel more comfortable again after a shaky start to life as a professional, Neil closed with a flawless 67 to finish joint-11th on 14-under at Panoramica, where top spot was shared Ireland’s Brian Casey and Spanish amateur Scott Fernandez with impressive 24-under-par totals.
England’s Ashley Chesters, another Walker Cup man, was also among the qualifiers there, but it was the end of the road for team-mate Jack Hume as well as Scots Mark Hillson and Craig Lawrie, Duncan Stewart having already withdrawn after the third round.
The sole Scot at Las Colinas, Kellett joined fellow Paul Lawrie Golf Centre player Law in the final after a roller-coaster final round. His 71 contained five birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey, but it was mission accomplished as he shared 18th spot on six-under.
“I played very solid for 72 holes,” said Kellett of his performance in an event won by German Philipp Mejow on 17-under-par. “I gained good experience at PGA Catalunya last year and knowing the courses and knowing how you feel at the final stage can only be helpful.”