Q-School heartbreak for Higgins
David Higgins only has himself to blame, but he will remember the name Hans Peter Bacher for some time after agonisingly missing the cut by a single shot at the European Tour Qualifying School finals in Spain.
The 39-year-old Kerryman produced a sterling fourth-round display on the rugged Stadium Course to move inside the crucial top-70 and ties at four- under for the tournament with just the 449-yard 18th to play.
However, he pushed his drive into the rough, found sand right of the green with a rescue and missed a four- footer for par that would prove crucial.
Despite carding a 70 to finish on three-under-par, he faced an anxious 35-minute wait to see if Austrian Hans Peter Bacher, who was three-under with three to play in the final group on the Stadium Course, could pick up a shot over his last three holes and leave exactly 70 players inside four-under.
In the end the young Austrian went one better, finishing birdie-par-birdie to send all the three-unders, including Higgins, down to 71st place.
"That's it then," said a disconsolate Higgins before disappearing into the gathering gloom.
It was a sad end to a battling day for the popular Waterville man, who had birdied the sixth, 10th and 15th to get to four-under for the tournament.
He dropped his first shot of the day at the par-three 16th where playing partner Knut Borsheim holed a five- iron from 206 yards for an ace -- the Norwegian's second hole-in-one inside 24 hours, having also holed out from the 14th tee on the Tour Course on Monday.
But after a brave birdie from 15 feet at the 17th looked to have put him safely through to the last two rounds, that final-hole bogey and Bacher's brilliant finish crushed Higgins' hopes of a tour return next season.
The remainder Irish contenders also packed their bags for home. On the Tour Course, Ballymena's Chris Devlin shot a two-under 68 to finish 101st on one-over with Jonny Caldwell (71) and Cian McNamara (69) tied 139th on nine-over.
All four Irish contenders will have category 12 membership of the Challenge Tour next year and Devlin is hoping it will be enough to secure a grant from the Team Ireland Golf Trust.
England's Sam Hutsby shot a one-under 71 on the Stadium Course to lead by two strokes from compatriot Andy Sullivan (72) on 16-under-par, but Nick Dougherty failed to keep his card as he finished seven shots outside the cut mark on three-over after a one-under-69 yesterday.
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