Paul Broadhurst, the former Ryder Cup star, is back challenging for a European Tour title seven months after fearing for his career.
While the Londoner Chris Gane was running up an amazing 17 shots at one hole in the Diageo Championship at here - the second highest in tour history - Broadhurst defied more windy conditions to record a 68.
It lifted the 37-year-old to three under par and as the second round neared its conclusion he was only one stroke behind the clubhouse leader Soren Kjeldsen. In the very last group of the day, however, the Australian, Brad Kennedy, was also four under with six to play.
After suffering a serious wrist injury playing out of the rough in Dubai in 2000, Broadhurst was just preparing to return when his other wrist became a problem. He eventually needed surgery and after playing only six events all year he plunged to 157th on the Order of Merit the following season and then failed to come through the qualifying school.
"That was the lowest point," he said. "I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I put on a brave face but I had no idea."
As a past Ryder Cup player and former Benson & Hedges and French Open champion, enough invitations came for Broadhurst to play 23 events on the main circuit last year. But although he earned over £80,000 he was back at the school last November and his future was on the line again.
Come the sixth and last round of the marathon ordeal the midlander needed a one-under 70 to survive - and shot 66. "My best ever round because of what it means to me," he said.
After four birdies in his last seven holes yesterday he now has a chance to win £200,000 and an even more precious two-year exemption.
Kjeldsen, who matched Broadhurst's 68, is perhaps the least-known member of the European Tour's millionaires club but that could change if he continues as he started. After turning in 32 and then chipping to three feet on the long second - his 11th - Kjeldsen drove into the rough at the next and missed a three-footer for par. It was his only lapse of the round.
Gane obviously fared worse at the 18th, but the hole also put serious dents in the title hopes of others. Sandy Lyle, who has not won for 11 years, and the defending champion Adam Scott both lost balls and took sevens there, Lyle to drop from two under to level par and the young Australian - winner by 10 at 26 under last August - from one over to three over.
Lee Westwood, who had to take a penalty drop, also had a seven to be four over and the Volvo PGA champion Ignacio Garrido ran up a nine, but he was already out at 11 over.
Colin Montgomerie, playing with Westwood and Garrido, had a par five that must have felt like an eagle and at one over - the same as 49-year-old Sam Torrance - he is still well placed to mount a bid.Reuse content