GIRONA, Spain (AP) Major winner Y.E. Yang and former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari were among the 30 golfers to earn a European Tour card for the 2017 season on Thursday following the final round of Q School.
On one of the most nerve-racking days on the European golfing calendar, the high-profile names in the 156-player field all came through safely after six rounds at PGA Catalunya just outside Barcelona.
Yang was one of them. The South Korean's seven-year exemption for winning the 2009 U.S. PGA Championship expired this year, meaning he had to go to qualifying school after a disappointing season on the main tour when he had just two top-20 finishes.
However, Yang handled the pressure well, playing consistent golf all week and his 1-under 71 on Thursday saw him finish on 8-under 420, in a tie for 11th.
Molinari, who played on Europe's triumphant 2010 Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor with younger brother Francesco, qualified for the second straight year in a tie for second on 12 under.
Englishmen Tom Lewis (8 under) and Eddie Pepperell (10 under) were other well-known players to get through the final stage. At 47, Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina became the oldest Q School graduate after finishing in a tie for second.
Nathan Kimsey of England won the final stage of Q School by a shot after finishing on 13 under. Kimsey also had to come through the first and second stages of Q School, meaning he had to play 252 holes to get his first card.
''The last two days have been up there in terms of how nervous I've ever been on a golf course up until this point,'' Kimsey said, ''so to come through both of them under par for those two rounds is so pleasing.''
There was a tension-filled end to the day for Englishmen Jamie Rutherford and Gary King, Jaco Ahlers of South Africa, Niclas Johansson of Sweden and Espen Kofstad of Norway, who were all tied for 25th place - the cut-off mark for qualifying - as Richard McEvoy made his way down the 18th. A birdie for McEvoy would have deprived the quintet of European Tour privileges and forced them to compete next year on the second-tier Challenge Tour, where the prize money is much less.
McEvoy made par and all six got their cards.
''It is probably the most stressful day I have had on a golf course, watching Tom (Lewis) and Richie (McEvoy),'' Pepperell said after watching his compatriots qualify. ''It is something I do not want to do again.''