Stars Old and New Secure European Tour Cards at Qualifying School
Stars old and new survived the gruelling examination of Qualifying School to secure their cards on the European Tour for next season. 156 anxious hopefuls descended upon the spectacular Lumine Golf Club for the Final Stage in Spain, faced with the prospect of six rounds to claim their future at the top table.
There was to be disappointment for the likes of former BMW PGA champion Matteo Manassero and stalwart Richard Bland, who failed to make it through and now face a different path in 2019, but there was a mixture of joy and relief for an eclectic mix of names whose primary ambition for the coming year will be to ensure that they won’t have to taste this experience again.
Two-time winner on the circuit, Alejandro Canizares headed the 27 who won their playing rights, finishing at the summit of the leaderboard alongside South Africa’s Zander Lombard.
“It was difficult for me, it’s been a weird two years coming over here and I couldn’t be happier,” the 35-year-old reflected to the European Tour Website. “My future wife is pregnant and I’m going to be a father soon. There are many good things happening at the moment.
“I’ve played in three Q-Schools now, it’s been a long time that has gone really quickly since I started on the Tour in 2006, and I knew my golf was there it just wasn’t happening the last two years. I had a couple of injuries; some personal things and golf wasn’t happening.
“And now, all those things are gone, and I can just play and focus on my game and get the confidence back hopefully. I’m over the moon.”
For Lombard, the 23-year-old from Pretoria, there was delight in instantly recovering from a campaign in which he finished 133rd in the Race to Dubai. “It’s great having lost my card and now I’ve regained my rights its awesome. I shouldn’t have been here in the first place, but to come out strong and prove myself to be on the Tour it’s really amazing, I don’t have words for it right now.”
There was also success for the former Amateur champion, Romain Langasque, who recently claimed his maiden professional title on the Challenge Tour. England’s Scott Gregory – the Frenchman’s successor as winner of the Amateur Championship – was another who snatched a golden ticket onto the European Tour, having overcome a year ravaged by injury and online scrutiny after he struggled to a round of 92 in June’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills.
“I’m immensely proud of myself. I think I’d only been playing for a month after coming back from injury when I went to First Stage.
“It’s been a tough year with injury and I didn’t have my best day at the U.S. Open. I probably came under some unfair criticism so to do this not only proves it to myself, but it proves it to them. It keeps a lot of people quiet,” the 24-year-old added.
Scotland’s Marc Warren birdied the final hole to take the 19th spot. The three-time European Tour winner has found himself requiring a late season charge in recent years to reclaim his place on the circuit but came up short in 130th place on this occasion.
However, the 37-year-old has shown that his quality remains intact, as he continues a run on the tour that now dates back to 2006 when he was named Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.
“It is the first time I have been in contention for a card and I really underestimated how tough it is.
“You have no idea what you need to do, and you have try and keep moving forward while trying not to make mistakes at the same time.
“It's not a pleasant way to play golf but obviously there is a reward at the end of it.”
In addition to Manassero and Bland, some of the most notable names who didn’t finish among the top 25 and ties included Marcel Siem, Anders Hansen, Gregory Havret, Gregory Bourdy, Connor Syme, Simon Dyson, Oliver Wilson, Steve Webster and Austin Connelly.
European Tour Qualifying School – Final Stage Qualifiers
Alejandro Canizares (-24)
Zander Lombard (-24)
Jeff Winther (-23)
Kurt Kitayama (-23)
Romain Langasque (-22)
Niklas Lemke (-21)
Clement Sordet (-21)
Bernd Ritthammer (-21)
Ivan Gutierrez Cantero (-20)
Anton Karlsson (-20)
Masahiro Kawamura (-19)
Scott Gregory (-19)
Louis De Jager (-18)
Per Langfors (-18)
Nick Cullen (-18)
Guido Migliozzi (-18)
Deyen Lawson (-18)
Daniel Gavins (-18)
Marc Warren (-17)
Kristian Krogh Johannessen (-16)
Filippo Bergamaschi (-16)
David Borda (-16)
Max Schmitt (-16)
Hugo Leon (-16)
Gavin Moynihan (-16)
Kristoffer Reitan (-16)
Ben Evans (-16)
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