EAGLESCIFFE professional Graeme Bell faces the most important round of his professional career to date when he tees off in the final round of the PGA European Seniors qualifying school over the pestana golf resorts Vale da Pinta course Portugal today.

Bell, 49, opened in dazzling style with rounds of 69-66 (-7) which left him three shots ahead of the international field at the halfway stage.

He is on course for one of the automatic top category cards which would guarantee him a place alongside the likes of former US Masters champions Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer and Sandy Lyle on the increasingly lucrative European Seniors Tour for the forthcoming season.

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Bell, who clocked up over 70 appearances for Durham County while a member of Hartlepool GC before joining the paid ranks, must show nerves of steel in today’s final round after a disappointing third round 76 (+5) which included a disastrous triple bogey six on the 167-yard ninth hole leaving him in a four-way tie for the sixth and final automatic slot at two under par.

Teesside’s other remaining competitor, Rockcliffe Hall’s Roger Roper, looked set to race up the leaderboard.

Starting his third round on four over, he reached the turn in two under courtesy of three birdies, but disaster struck as he proceeded to drop seven shots in three holes from the 11th before securing two birdies in the last five holes to leave him with an outside chance of gaining one of the restricted cards available to those finishing in places 6-14.