Golf stars Ben Evans and Luke Cornford came through the opening stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.
Staplecross-based Evans came tied second in the first stage section D event at Golf d’Hardelot in northern France, while Cornford, from St Leonards, finished tied 13th at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire.
Evans began with a level par 71 on the Tuesday in which he mixed an eagle and two birdies with four bogeys, three of them in successive holes. A fine second round 67 containing five birdies and a solitary bogey the following day pushed him into the top 10.
The 26-year-old continued his progress with a very good third round 68 on the Thursday. On a tough afternoon when many others struggled, Evans fired four birdies and a single bogey to move up to tied second and within one of South African leader Haydn Porteous.
Evans finished as he started with a 71 on the Friday, recovering from two bogeys in the first six holes with three birdies in the next five before dropping a third shot on the 14th. He ended up alongside another South African player Louis De Jager and five behind American winner Wes Homan jnr.
The 27 players who achieved level par or better for the 72 holes go forward to stage two, which will take place at four courses in Spain from November 2-5. The leading players from those events will advance to the final stage, also in Spain during November, where European Tour cards for next season will be up for grabs.
Cornford, of Cooden Beach Golf Club, began with a one-under 71 featuring an eagle and two birdies before carding a splendid second round 68 with five birdies. He lost ground with a third round 76 despite making five birdies, but made up 22 places with a terrific final round 68 containing six birdies.
It’s back to Alps Tour action for Evans this week as he contests the 2013 IS Molas Open at Circolo Golf Is Molas in Italy from Wednesday to Friday. Evans lies seventh on the season-long order of merit having achieved six top 10 finishes in his last nine events.