Edition 1450
18 November 2017
Edition: 1450

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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‘Tis the Season

by Advertiser, in Sport · 09-11-2017 15:40:00 · 0 Comments

It’s that time of year again, not in the Christmas sense, but in the golfing sense. Where the landscape for the year’s careers is either solidified, or destroyed. All before we start over again and start counting the points for the Ryder Cup, in France next year.

‘Tis the Season

What I mean by that is whilst the majority of the European Tour’s focus is on the Race to Dubai, Justin Rose has won two out of the last two European Tour events, which has left him only €134,838 behind the current leader Tommy Fleetwood. With only two events left in the season and prize money totalling €15,500,000 for these events it’s really a neck and neck race.
However, there are some serious players lurking in the pack behind, who could make a break for it and claim the prize. These being two Spaniards, the Masters Champion and newly wedded Sergio Garcia and the up and coming soon to be 23-year-old sensation, Jon Rahm. Both are around one million euros behind, so it is possible for them to catch the leading pair, but the leading pair have to bomb out of both competitions to allow the chasing pack to catch them.
All of this is occurring at one end of the spectrum, this being the wealthy end of the spectrum, where being a million euros behind is catchable, or even playing in a tournament with a prize fund of seven million euros is commonplace. The other end of the spectrum is much more, shall we say, real. As I am typing this, the Qualifying School is about to finish its second stage of competition.
Qualifying School is the most brutal dog eat dog competitive environment in golf. It is where the ‘young hopefuls’ in world golf play for an opportunity to earn a pass onto the European Tour and its breeding tour, which is called the Challenge Tour. There are three stages held, all over Europe, between the middle of September to the middle of November. Usually the field comprises around 100 players, all having to place in the top twenty-thirty spots to advance to the next stage.
In Stage One of ‘Q-School’ there are eight venues, in Stage Two there are four venues and then the Final Stage is at one venue. If you do not make it into the safe position of a qualifying spot, you do not advance to the next stage and your dreams of playing next year on Tour have ended, for the next twelve months. No appeal process, no buy in for a price. You are done.
This is an environment where you can get Tour hardened Professionals being made to compete against the young bloods. I have just seen that Richard Finch has lost his playing privileges for 2017. Time waits for no man in this game.
If you go into europeantour.com and have a look at the ‘Q School’ section, all of the information is available and free to be seen. The heartbreak is that you can get so close and still miss out. For example, imagine how Maarten Lafebermust feel, birdying the last two holes to make a play-off. A sudden death play-off where six people were playing for five spots. Almost the ultimate musical chairs scenario. Lafeber didn’t fair too well in the play-off and missed one of the five spots. As I am typing he is probably working out what he is going to say to his wife, family and sponsors. The name may not be familiar, but he has won, during his career just shy of €5 million euros, which averages out at €250,000 per year. Yet, next year he is looking for a new job, on a different tour because he hasn’t been good enough. It really is a tough school in every sense of the word.
All this endeavour is going on underneath the golfing public’s radar. Tiger’s comeback, the Race to Dubai, “Rose in full bloom” are getting the headlines. It’s not unusual for a player who has been hanging all of his hopes on success at Tour School, falling short of the mark and then being penniless with Christmas looming. It’s a good thing that there are a lot of seasonal jobs, this time of year. Your local supermarket or Post Office could have a seriously talented golfer stacking shelves or sorting parcels.

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Edition 1450
18 November 2017
Edition: 1450

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter