GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) - Faced with the alarming prospect of losing his European Tour playing rights, the final round of the Johnnie Walker Championship is shaping up to be the most important 18 holes of Anthony Kang's year.
The 38-year-old American has endured a dreadful 2011, missing the cut in 18 of his 23 events. Earning a paltry €62,000 ($90,000) this year has left him 170th in the Race to Dubai standings and in danger of losing his card.
However, the Korean-born Kang has turned his form around at Gleneagles, with scores of 66 and 69 over the past two days putting him three shots off the lead going into the final round.
It's a chance he can't afford to pass up if he wants to avoid going back to qualifying school.
"I'm always telling myself I'm a once-a-year player. And this could be my week right here," Kang told The Associated Press just off the 18th green.
"A win will be pretty big. And a solo second would lock up any card. But there's so many good players out here that you can't be thinking about that in the third round. You just do the best you can and see how it ends up."
Things haven't gone according to plan this year for Kang, whose trips back to Phoenix, Arizona to see his family will become more scarce the longer he goes without a decent payday.
"My plan was to play as much as I could earlier in the year, lock up my card and take it easy in the second half. Now I'm playing as much as I can in the second half," he said.
"I really don't like it but it's the way it is. Hopefully I have enough tournaments and good form left in me to make a move. At the moment, I'm just enjoying the hole that I've dug for myself."
Kang's last win came at the 2009 Malaysian Open, which broke a drought going back to the Myanmar Open in 2001.
Since then, he has been in contention for victory only once - at last year's Hong Kong Open when he finished fourth.
"Once you've won, the winning feeling is always there. All my wins are fresh in my head. But if you haven't been there for a while, it makes you feel a bit nervous," he said.
"It's been a little bit of everything, bad form from the driver to the putter. But lately it's been a bit more on the fairway and I've been putting it on the green, with a few putts here and there. It's leading to better scores. I hope tomorrow I can put this down."