Gory outweighs glory on long last day at Q-School

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The Independent Online

Surely it cannot be too long before some bright television executive realises it is not necessary to dress up fast bowlers in sequins or fly soap stars to the jungle in the desperate search for ratings. There is a ready-made reality show called Q-School.

Be warned, though, because as yesterday proved final qualifying for the European Tour can sometimes be too real. For while Tom Whitehouse took the glory - the Birmingham 25-year-old winning £15,000 with a 13-under total - it was the gory that left the biggest impression as triumph and disaster fairly skipped up these fairways, hand in hand.

Take the contrasting emotions of two Argentinians here yesterday as an example. When Miguel Carballo came to the last three holes of this six-round schlep that began way back last Thursday, he knew that at six-over he was two off the pace needed to become one of the 32 fortunate graduates. Eight incredible shots later, Carballo was in the clubhouse at two-over, having gone birdie, hole-in-one, birdie in a 4-1-3 finish that left him so gobsmacked when asked how he felt he could only clasp his hands, look to the sky and laugh.

Minutes later Ariel Canete could only peer to the earth and cry. Walking up that 18th he was one-over and all but certain of playing alongsides Colin Montgomerie next year. But then a duff sandwiched itself between a lost ball and a three-putt and the resulting quadruple-bogey eight meant he missed out by one. "This feels like someone ripping my heart out," he said.

At least Canete had only to endure 108 holes of futility. Those such as Gareth Wright had to play 252 holes before being granted agony. In truth, the Edinburgh-based Welshman was six shots adrift at 10-over, but like so many still had a hard luck story to tell.

"After coming through the first two stages of qualifying to get here, I was dead excited," revealed the 23-year-old who turned professional in July. "But then minutes before my first round I was in the loo and I felt my back go. It hurt so much I could hardly keep both hands on the club, but although I considered pulling out I stuck at it and somehow got a 78. But the damage had been done. Tell me, how can you do your back in going to the toilet? The physios told me it was a spasm, but I have never had one before. I wouldn't be human if I didn't look back and wonder what if."

Indeed, it was easy to sympathise with the boy who went to spend a penny and lost a few hundred grand in the process, but for every tale of woe there was one of joy. The most emotional was Wilhelm Schauman, who was so overcome with moving up from 12-over to four-over in his last 24 holes that he tried to throw his ball in the huge lake by the final green - but was wide.

"That was the only time all day," the Swede laughed. "I started the qualifying procedure two months ago knowing that I had nowhere to go if I didn't make it. This has been 252 holes of torture and I'm sure I've now got an ulcer. I'll wash it away with beer tonight."

David Drysdale was likely to be next to him in that Costa Del Sol bar speculating on the second time in as many months he has come within one place of securing his card. The Scotsman finished 117th on Tour last season - 116 keep their cards - and here he was also one away after seeing a bunker shot on the 16th totter so close to the edge that "a gnat's fart would have been enough to blow it in". Such are the margins between going to the big party and going home.