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Macaulay and Orr make grade but Murray fails

As ever with the European Tour's qualifying school final, the closing day of the six-round examination was full of mixed emotions and the fortunes certainly fluctuated for the small Scottish contingent in north-east Spain.

Two Scots, Callum Macaulay and Gary Orr, both narrowly made the grade at PGA Catalunya in Girona but George Murray watched in horror as his putt on the last from two-feet lipped out and his double-bogey 6 meant that he fell agonisingly short  by a single shot.

Macaulay, who had one season at the top table in 2009 and has been scrambling to get back ever since, finally secured a return to the promised land with a one-under-par 71 for a six-under 422 to finish in a share of 20th.

"There were times during the last two years when I thought I would never be on the tour again and my game was going backwards," admitted the former Scottish Amateur champion and Eisenhower Trophy winner, who holed a birdie putt from the back of the green on the 18th to make certain of his place. "I got off to a great start to the season and everything just went pear-shaped in the middle of the season. Today has just turned a mediocre year into a great one."

Orr endured an anxious end to a campaign in which he edged down toward the cut mark round by round. he finished with a bogey on the last in a 73 but the Helensburgh veteran held on grimly to the 28th and final card on the 423 limit.

At 45 years and 202 days, he became the oldest player to gain a tour card since the Q-school's inception in 1976. The 20-year gap between him earning his first tour card, in 1992, and his latest this week is also a record.

Having been plagued by back problems in recent years, though, the rigours of the 108-hole marathon have taken a toll. "I'll not be back [at q-school], whatever happens next season," said the two-time tour winner, who will give the opening two events in South Africa over the next fortnight a miss to recuperate.

Murray, who dropped off the main tour at the end of this season, was on course for a swift return until his disaster on the final green, in a two-over 74, cost him dear. Alastair Forsyth is facing up to an uncertain schedule in 2013 after a 75 left him down in a share of 44th on 429 with Andrew McArthur.

*In South Africa, Paul Lawrie opened his challenge at the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City with a one-under 71. Competing in the elite, 12-man event for the first time since 1999, he is a stroke behind the joint leaders, Bill Haas and Nicolas Colsaerts.

*In California, Russell Knox, the Inverness exile, added a 72 to his opening 70 in the PGA Tour qualifying school campaign but he was well down the field in the race for 25 tour cards with most of the field still to finish their second rounds.

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