Simon Dyson’s “win or bust” attempt to grab a Ryder Cup place saw him charge into the early first-round lead at the final qualifying event today.
But two late bogeys mean Dyson still has it all to do in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
A four-under-par 68 left the 32-year-old in joint fourth place, two behind fellow Yorkshireman Richard Finch.
While the duo were happy with their morning’s work, however, compatriot Ross McGowan’s dream of a debut appeared to have been wrecked by a return of shoulder trouble.
Needing a top-two finish just to have a chance, McGowan slumped to a five-over-par 77 and is not even certain to play the second round.
Earlier this year he suffered knee and then wrist problems, but it is the trapped nerve which has now derailed his bid in the final month of the 12-month race.
The 28-year-old managed only four pitch shots on the practice range yesterday before calling a halt.
Despite painkillers and strapping he dropped shots on the 10th, 13th, 15th and long 16th, where he was in a greenside bunker for two, left it in and then missed from seven feet.
Even when he struck his tee shot to 15 feet on the 194-yard next he squatted down in clear pain and then got up feeling his shoulder and chest.
“I pretty much wouldn’t be here but for the Ryder Cup,” he said. “I’ll have some more treatment and see how it is tomorrow, but I think from now on I’ll be concentrating on the Race to Dubai.”
Playing partner Miguel Angel Jimenez had every sympathy, but the injury was good news for the 46-year-old, currently in the hot seat of ninth on the points table.
Pushed down into the last automatic qualifying spot by Peter Hanson’s Czech Open win on Sunday, Jimenez made a late decision to play rather than take the week off and had a two-under 70.
Should Dyson win on Sunday, however, Jimenez would have to finish in the top nine to keep him at bay.
Alvaro Quiros, the other Spaniard still in the race, needs a win like Dyson, but he mixed five birdies with five bogeys in a 72 that included a lost ball on the long 16th.
Hanson, not safe yet at eighth in the standings, was on the same mark with five to play, but birdied three of them for a 69 that strengthens his position.
Former Irish Open champion Finch – he famously fell in a river on the final hole of that event – led by a shot from two more English players, David Lynn and Robert Rock.