Vilamoura golf pro Ricardo Santos teed off at the season-ending Apulia San Domenico Grand Final safe in the knowledge that his place on next year’s PGA European Tour proper was already secure.
The absence of pressure showed as the 29-year-old Algarvean hit a relaxed opening five-under-par round of 66 for a share of the lead.
Subsequent solid efforts which saw him end the tournament comfortably placed among the top 20 were briefly overshadowed by Englishman Tommy Fleetwood’s record breaking 10-under-par second round 61 and the fact that fellow Portuguese Tour hopeful Filipe Lima missed out on qualification by one stroke.
The 29-year-old who resides in France would have secured his place had he been able to defend his 13th place after round three. But a closing day total of 72 which included an agonizing missed final hole birdie putt meant failure by the narrowest of margins.
While Santos will enjoy the fruits of six year’s labour at the top of the European game in 2012, Lima must return to qualifying school in Spain next month.
Both Portuguese players, who were heading for this week’s national championships, subsequently starred in the San Dominico Pro-Am event, with Lima’s team shading Santos’ on count back to take first and second before their departure.