England’s Paul Broadhurst grabbed the halfway lead in the £1m (€1.46m) Mallorca Classic at Pula today – but the European tour career of another former Ryder Cup star was left hanging by a thread.
While Broadhurst was adding a 66 to his opening 67 for a seven under under par total of 133, one better than Jose Maria Olazabal, Swede Jarmo Sandelin needs the weekend of his life to avoid a return to the tour qualifying school.
Sandelin, part of Europe’s team against the Americans in Boston only six years ago, feared the worst when he went out of bounds and triple-bogeyed the 12th, then three-putted the last for a 73.
“The pain is over – a new life as a taxi driver begins,” he said gloomily as he handed in his scorecard. But nearly five hours later the cut went to four over par and he had survived right on the limit.
That was the good news. The bad is that he has to climb into the top four over the closing 36 holes to move from 139th on the Order of Merit into the leading 116 who keep their cards for next season.
“I was out of bounds twice today and that cost me four shots,” he added.
“My new swing is so much better and I’m hitting many, many more brilliant shots, but it’s like somebody is playing the destiny game with me.”
Broadhurst can sympathise. Unbeaten in the 1991 Ryder Cup he lost his card in 2001 and required two trips to the qualifying school to get it back. If he had failed that second time he might well have quit.
How things have changed. At the age of 40 the Midlander is enjoying the most lucrative season of his career.
Even when he was ninth on the money list nine years ago he did not earn the £463,000 he has already this year – and now he has the chance to add a further £170,000.
Broadhurst had his first victory for a decade at the Portuguese Open in April and was reminded of that week by the way he felt coming into this tournament.
“I had pretty much zero expectations – about the same as Portugal,” he commented.
“It’s amazing how many times that happens. One day you can’t hit it, the next day you’re leading the tournament.”
After seven birdies in his first 12 holes on the short but tricky layout Broadhurst led by five.
But he went into the lake on the 392-yard 14th for a double bogey six and Olazabal’s joint best-of-the-day 65 lifted him onto the heels of his former Ryder Cup team-mate.
Olazabal is currently in the process of making changes to the course and when asked if it would be a thrill to take the title on it he replied: “It would be a thrill to win anywhere after three years without one.”
France’s Gregory Bourdy knows he cannot hold on to his place on the circuit. He missed the cut by one and Miguel Angel Martin’s survival means he is sure to go past him.
Scot David Drysdale’s fate is out of his hands now. He made an early exit as well and at 115th on the Order of Merit he is in danger of losing his card.