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Best-of-day 65 secures Gary Orr his European Tour card

At 44, Gary Orr can hardly be included among the sprightly, new generation but, as Scotland's latest batch of young pups failed to display any bite during the qualifying school process, the Helenburgh stalwart showed there's plenty of life in the old dog yet as he reclaimed his European Tour card in Spain last night.

While his fellow Scot, Steven O'Hara, also made a swift return to the main circuit by sharing fifth after the closing 18 holes of the six-round final at PGA Catalunya near Girona, Orr bounced back in a tie for eighth after a best-of-the-day seven-under-par 65 propelled him up 20 places to a 15-under tally of 413.

O'Hara, meanwhile, had been sharing the lead at one point but a spilled shot at the last in a 68 for a 17-under 411 scuppered those ambitions and he eventually finished four strokes behind No.1 qualifier, David Dixon.

Nevertheless, the fact he and Orr both secured a place in the top 10 – the leading 30 were handed tour cards of varying worth – means they will be rewarded with a healthy dose of playing opportunities in 2012.

For Orr, who has battled a niggling back problem in recent seasons, the successful qualifying mission was concluded with his lowest score of a year marked by fluctuating fortunes. With his medical exemption for the circuit expiring at the end of the campaign, the two-time tour champion knew there would be no safety net if he failed to finish high enough on the order of merit. Missing 11 of his first 13 cuts did little to help his cause and, despite a fourth place in September's KLM Open, Orr eventually found himself back at school having finished 137th on the Race to Dubai rankings.

"I'm definitely not keen on repeating this," said Orr, whose purposeful, seven-birdie round included four in five holes from the 11th. "It's a tough week mentally. The only way I can describe it is that it's like playing on a Friday afternoon when you are right on the cut line, except it is that feeling all week, so you can't relax at any time. It is not as if you can get a nice round going and relax and enjoy it. That just doesn't happen. You are right on a knife-edge all week."

Orr can now start planning for a 20th year as a touring pro. It doesn't get any easier, though. "Guys are better coached from a younger age, equipment is better and it's just totally different to when I started," he reflected. "Guys are fitter and most of the young guys hit it miles so it's a different game."

O'Hara opened his 2011 season with a fourth-place finish in the Africa Open but the old woes with the putter once again hindered the former Scottish champion's progress and he managed just one more top-five after that. Despite being 17th on the greens in regulation stats, the Colville Park man finished third from bottom on the putts-per-round rankings.

"It was a disappointing year," he said. "I've been hitting the ball well and not getting any results and to finish near the bottom of the putting stats again is very frustrating.

"But I've got a few ideas to work on in the winter, so, hopefully, I can come out next year and be a lot better and more confident."

While O'Hara and Orr passed the rigorous test with flying colours, Greenock's Chris Doak, the only other Scot to survive the 72-hole cut, failed to make the grade with a two-over 74 for a 424.

Two shots outside the qualifying mark heading into the final day, the former Scottish PGA champion's bid to gatecrash the top-30 suffered a series of blows on the outward half with two bogeys and a double-bogey. Doak rallied with a trio of birdies coming home but the damage had already been done.

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