It is that time of year, when the qualifying for the European Tour starts. This is the opportunity to gain a golden ticket at the end of three stages and a total of 14 rounds. The golden ticket is a European Tour card for 2014.
My season has been spent playing the PGA Europro Tour, which I feel is the best developmental tour to test your game and prepare for life on Tour. So far this season I have had a couple of good results and I feel as if my game is improving and moving closer to where I want it to be. So I was in a positive frame of mind going into the week.
I traveled down to Frilford Heath on Sunday and played 18 holes, the course was in great condition. I was happy with my plan of action and decided to just walk the course on Monday and putt on the greens. I felt it was going to be a long week, more mentally than anything else and I was happy with how I was playing, I had also played the course a few times before.
For round 1, I was off early at 8.40 and I made a solid start opening up with 4 pars, before swapping bogey and birdie on 14 and 15. I got to 2 under with three to play after making three birdies. Although I dropped a couple of shots over those last three holes, I was in with a 72. Which was a good building block for the rest of the week.
Round 2 didn’t start of great with bogies on the first two holes, but I kept calm knowing this week was a marathon and not a sprint. I went onto par the remaining holes on the front nine, before making 4 birdies on the back nine and I was round in 70, which pushed me up the leaderboard and inside the qualifying spots at the halfway mark.
I started round 3 from the 10th tee and opened up with a birdie and added another on 15, before dropping shots on 17 and 18. Like round 2, I started to make some birdies on my back nine, making three in total against one dropped shot and I was again round in 70 and another move up the leaderboard and I was in 12th position going into the final round, with the top 24 and ties progressing through to stage 2.
I had an idea that a 72 or better in the final round would be enough to progress and I opened up with a bogey in round 4, but there was still 17 holes to go and no need chase anything. As the round progressed I continued to tick off pars and I entered the back nine at 3 under for the tournament, I kept hitting greens and making stress free pars. Then a good approach into 12 gave my first birdie of the day and I was back to level par for the day and 4 under for the tournament. I closed out the round with pars and I walked off the 18th green knowing I had done what was required on that day.
I dropped down the leaderboard and finished up in 18th place, but with the qualifying mark falling on 2 under, I had progressed to stage 2 which was all that mattered. I was very pleased with how the final round went, as I had set out with the mind set of Sir Nick Faldo’s famous last round when he made 18 pars to win his first major championship at Muirfield in 1987. I didn’t take any risks, just aiming to hit fairways and greens, without once attacking a pin.
Stage 2 takes place between the 2-5th November out in Spain but before then I have a couple of Pro Ams next week before the season ending Tour Championships on the PGA Europro Tour at Prince’s the following.