Graeme Storm began the new European Tour season with a brilliant joint fourth finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
The Hartlepol star yesterday carded a second successive four-under par round of 68, to add on to his first round 73 and second round 67 to finish 12 under par - still 10 shots off winner Brandon Stone, who triumphed in his home country South Africa.
Storm had vowed not to put as much pressure on himself this season after a late reprieve to stay in the sport’s elite division.
He had finished 112th on the order of merit with only the leading 111 guaranteeing themselves their Tour card.
But when world number eight Patrick Reed did not meet the competition’s appearance quota, he lost his place, bumping the Poolie up to number 111.
Storm was determined not to face a similar fight for survival this time round - and his winnings of €40,300 in the opening event gives him a magnificent start.
Yesterday, he carded biridies on holes 2, 6, 11, 13 and 15 - and barring a bogey on the 16th he could have even higher up the leaderboard.
Stone was thrilled to win, cruising to a seven-shot victory, on 22 under par.
“To get this win before Christmas is obviously great but more importantly it gets me a good start on the Race to Dubai,” he said.
Fellow South African Richard Sterne finished alone in second on 15 under after posting a flawless 67 in his final round.
Last year’s champion Charl Schwartzel held a share of the lead early yesterday, but a triple bogey and a double saw him finish alongside Storm.