Euro Q-School: Hutsby earns card easily

Sam Hutsby shot a final-round 69 to secure his 2010 European Tour card.

Sam Hutsby shot a final-round 69 to secure his 2010 European Tour card.

England’s Sam Hutsby can start living the dream.

The 21-year-old Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup player now his sights set on a European Tour victory next season after taking the second card at the European Tour Qualifying School at PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, Spain.

Hutsby closed in 3-under-par 69 and came within a stroke of taking the top card earned by fellow Englishman Simon Khan, who shot 74 for a 20-under total.

Hutsby began the day six shots off Khan’s lead. However, an eagle at the third hole and a triple-bogey by Khan at the 9th hole made things interesting.

“The top 30 was always the goal, so to think I was in a position to win it on the last few holes was fantastic,” Hutsby said. “Coming down the stretch was almost like a match-play situation. I knew I had the card in the bag as long as I didn’t do anything stupid so I could relax a bit.

“I think it shows now after this week that my game is there and I’m capable of winning a major event. I’d love to win a European Tour event. Hopefully that might be the case next year, but first I’ve just got to try and find my feet on Tour and try and secure my card for the following year as well.”

Hutsby played in a losing GB&I Walker Cup effort at Merion in September and turned professional immediately afterwards. He finished tied for eighth in the Castello Masters in only his third professional start; so it was no surprise he arrived at Q-school feeling upbeat.

Khan had been a tour regular between 2003 and 2008. He won the 2004 Celtic Manor Wales Open during that stretch, his only Tour victory. However, he lost his way this season and was forced to make his third trip to Q-school.

With a six-shot lead, Khan seemed in cruise control starting the final round. The trible-bogey upset his equilibrium, and he spent the rest of the round just trying to hang onto first spot.

“It was a tough day,” Khan said. “I was on the ball mentally at the start of the round, but made the mistake after five or six holes of thinking everything was going nicely, and maybe I got a bit complacent, which is the worst thing you can do.

“At the start of the week the aim was to finish in the top five, so I’ve exceeded my expectations, which feels good. But I know the hard work starts here.”

Khan wasn’t the only former Euro Tour winner to secure his card. Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher took third spot, two shots behind Khan. Former Arizona State player Alejandro Canizares took fourth place.

Scotland’s Scott Drummond, Sweden’s Patrik Sjoland, Anton Haig of South Africa and 1999 European Ryder Cup players Jarmo Sandelin and Andrew Coltart were among the notable former European Tour winners to secure full playing rights for next season.

Notable ex-college players to make it through included Jamie Elson (Augusta State), Mark Haastrup (Georgia State) and Stephan Gross (Arizona State).

Julien Guerrier, the 2006 British Amateur champion, holed a 10-foot putt on the last to take one of the last cards. Austria’s Rick Kulacz holed a 40 foot putt on the last hole to return an 8-under-par 64 and gain one of the last cards.

As always there were bad luck stories, too. England’s Sam Walker bogeyed the last hole after three straight birdies to miss by a shot. Welshman Liam Bond bogeyed the last two holes and also miss by a shot.

Thirty-one players on 10-under or better gained cards for the 2010 season, which begins this month in South Africa with the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

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