Rock in hard place as storm strikes

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The Independent Online

Hell was waterlogged yesterday. At least that was the way the 84 European Tour hopefuls must have been looking at it as rain, lightning and even hail caused the suspension of the penultimate round of final qualifying on the so-called Costa del Sol here.

As if the golfing version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire does not ask enough questions of its contestants - with just the 30 top-place finishers and ties earning a passport to the £75m Tour proper and the rest left to seek any sort of asylum they can on the remaining threadbare fairways - then storm interruptions are surely a request too far. Especially when the finish line is so close in the 108-hole marathon that began last Thursday.

The three young Englishmen leading the field must certainly think so. Robert Rock, Darren Griffiths and Tom Whitehouse are now so far clear at nine-under - with 10 holes of their fifth round remaining - that any failure to earn their cards now seems unthinkable. Unless...

Soaking grips usually become ever more slippery when mixed with tension and the 28 holes the organisers are hoping to complete today promise to throw up the heart-warming and heart-breaking that characterises this most merciless of shoot-outs.

Iain Pyman is in danger of cranking up the violins if the popular Yorkshireman cannot stop the slide that saw him lose three shots on the first nine to lie perilously close to the mark on two-over, while another former recipient of the leading amateur prize at the Open, David Dixon, set himself up with four birdies to leap to three-under and into fourth.

The West Countryman looks odds-on to advance from his third Q-School in four years. As if odds matter a damn in hell.

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