England’s Jodi Ewart continued to lead after the fourth round of the Ladies European Tour’s Final Qualifying School at La Manga Club in Spain on Wednesday as 52 players made the cut, securing their places in the fifth and final round.
Wednesday’s penultimate round represented a chance for the 99 competitors in the field to make a break towards the top 50 and ties and the magic number fell at nine over par.
On Thursday, the remaining 52 competitors will ultimately be targeting the crucial top 30 places and membership of the LET in category 8a.
After the final round, those who finish in positions 31 to 52 will be eligible for Membership in Category 9b, but with fewer chances to play.
As always at Qualifying School, there was drama at the top and bottom of the leader board as the players jostled for position.
At the top of the leader board, Ewart’s overnight lead was cut from seven to four shots, after Swiss amateur Anais Maggetti fired a six under 67 on the South Course to end the day at seven under par.
Maggetti, 21, from Losone, showed what was possible as she reeled off seven birdies and one bogey in the bright and sunny, calm conditions.
She said: “I am very happy and I holed two long putts of 20 metres. Tomorrow I want to play the same as today.”
If Maggetti finishes inside the top 30 places, she will turn professional, but if not will consider her options.
Ewart turned professional in June 2010 and has been honing her game on the US Futures Tour since graduating from New Mexico University, but she said that she endured a frustrating day on the greens.
A fourth round of two over 73 on the North Course gave the 24-year-old from North Yorkshire an 11 under par aggregate total.
Ewart said: “I didn’t get very many chances today. They just weren’t falling at all. I had one bad hole which set me back a couple of shots but nothing really went in.
“I am feeling calm but I got a little frustrated today because I had a couple of unlucky finishes, behind trees and stuff. I got a little bit unlucky and had one bogey and one double. I hit it in a fairway bunker and just got a little bit greedy with my lay-up shot, which was 115. I caught the lip of the bunker and came back in and three putted on top of that. I just had one birdie on the fifth.
“Nothing was dropping. I had so many pars and everything was green in regulation and two putts. It was a pretty boring round and the opposite of yesterday.”
At the other end of the leader board, Russian Maria Verchenova was one of the players who climbed up into the top 52 places moving from tied 55th into a share of 43rd with a one under par 72 on the South Course, but Scotland’s Lynn Kenny went the other way, slipping from tied 49th into joint 76th with a 78 on the North.
While there was misery for some, there was joy for Norwegian Caroline Martens, sitting in a share of 30th position on six over par in total, after she had a hole in one at the second on the North Course. She also had a hole in one on a different hole on the same course the previous year.
With one day to go, the golfers are facing the last 18 holes of this year’s test, but who will be able to withstand the pressure and produce the goods when it is needed the most?
Ultimately, the higher up the leader board the players finish, the more competitive chances will be available to them during the 2012 season.
If necessary, a play-off will take place to establish first position, to determine who will follow in the footsteps of Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall as recent LET Q-School winners, while if necessary, there will also be a play-off to establish 30th place.
The final round will be played over the South Course starting from two tees at 9.30am on Thursday, with the leading trio of Ewart, Maggetti and Stephanie Kirchmayr, who shares joint third spot with Carlota Ciganda at four under, teeing off the first at 10.50am.