Alvaro Quiros is just one round away from salvaging his career.
The long-hitting Spaniard will take a five-shot lead into the final round of the $1.1 million Rocco Forte Open in Verdura, Sicily. One more decent score and Quiros will regain his European Tour card.
The 34-year-old returned a 2-under-par 70 on a day when strong winds turned the previously easy layout into a bit of a beast. Quiros was one of only seven players to break par as he reached 14-under-par, five shots ahead Portugal’s Jose-Felipe Lima and South African Zander Lombard, 2014 British Amateur Championship runner-up.
“Today was the worst golfing day for me,” Quiros said. “From the tee, I was more irregular than normal but I played with the same intentions, trying to fight until the final hole and I’ve been putting well too.
“Today it was really difficult to putt. The wind was blowing crazy strong and on the greens the perception was always changing with the intensity of this wind. I’m happy with where I am right now.”
Quiros is a six-time European Tour winner. He won twice in 2011, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Dubai World Championship. He received a five-year European Tour exemption for the latter victory. However, that ran out last year and Quiros finished 134th on the money list. It called for an unsuccessful return to the European Tour Qualifying School.
From a high of 21st in the world in January 2012, the affable Spaniard is now ranked 703rd.
If he wins this week he gains a ticket to next week’s $7 million BMW PGA Championship. That’s the sort of tournament Quiros should be playing in rather than a low budget event like the Rocco Forte alongside the European Tour’s supporting cast.
“Golf is a very difficult game, you never know what’s around the corner,” Quiros said. “I’ve been very lucky this week. If I’m not mistaken, I haven’t had a single unplayable ball and that’s a very lucky thing in these windy conditions. If my game stays more or less where it is and I keep putting like I am, I’m going to have chances up until the end.”
The final round of the Rocco Forte Open might just be the most important round of Quiros’s life.