Marshall falls just short in Grand Final
Norfolk's Andrew Marshall produced an excellent finish to his Challenge Tour campaign at the weekend – but it was not enough to earn him a return to the top flight of European golf.
Needing to finish either first or second at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final to regain his card on the main European Tour, the Dereham professional finished in a tie for third position after a brave effort in Italy.
As a result Marshall ended up in 25th position in the Challenge Tour's Order of Merit – with only the top 20 gaining promotion.
The Norfolk player performed well throughout the four days of the Grand Final, with two 67s and two 68s leaving him level with fellow countryman Andrew Johnston on 14 under par.
That was just two shots adrift of where he needed to be, with Tommy Fleetwood finishing runner-up on 16 under. Local favourite Andrew Pavan won the event by a single shot after a steady final round of 71.
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Marshall won around �18,000 for his efforts in Italy, taking his season's earnings in the Challenge and European Tours up to a highly respectable total of a little over �95,000.
That provided one big consolation after a brave near miss – and another was his excellent form ahead of another tough test, the final stages of the European Tour School, which take place in Spain next month.
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Johnston, Sam Walker and Pelle Edberg all leapt into the top 20 of the final Challenge Tour rankings from outside the cut-off point to claim their cards. Johnston's elevation was the most impressive, having started the week in 27th place in the rankings before a stunning performance in Italy which saw him finish tied third on the Adriatic coast.
That was enough not only to claim a European Tour card, but also to move into the top 15 and seal a better category for the 2012 season.
Johnston's compatriot Walker finished the Grand Final in tied sixth position after a final round of 70 left him 12 under par for the tournament and five shots behind the winner.
Swedish professional Edberg's outright fifth place finish meant he just squeezed into the reckoning for a European Tour card, in 18th place in the rankings.