Mark Tullo admits the bitter memory of losing his European Tour card by one spot last season still “pops into his head sometimes”, but he is fully focused on returning to golf’s top tier through the Challenge Tour this year.
The Chilean has had some good results so far, missing two cuts from eight appearances and not finishing outside the top 25 when he has made it to the weekend. At 37th in the Rankings, though, the 34 year old knows he needs to step up a gear to break into the all-important top 20 and earn a swift return to The European Tour.
“It’s been a pretty decent season so far,” said Tullo, who was the ninth graduate in 2010, but missed out on retaining his card in 2011 by an agonising €1,277. “You always think you could do better. I’m struggling a little bit with the flat stick – if I could make a few more putts I think I could win.
“There hasn’t been a week yet where everything has combined. I’ve had a few problems with my driver, but that’s sorted now. Everything’s there, it’s just a question of joining all the dots, which you have to do to win.
“It’s steady, but I’m getting bored of one, two under. I want to have a week where I really feel comfortable. But then again, that’s the way sport goes. You can’t feel good all week, every week. So I’m just waiting for that week to come, and when it comes I know I’ll be able to fight for a victory.
“I’ve had this kind of week before, and I’ve won before, so I know it’ll come around again. I don’t know what it is. I wish I could bottle the formula and sell it. You’ve just got to be patient and it’ll come.”
There is the odd occasion, however, when Tullo contemplates his position, having come so close to remaining at golf’s top table.
“It was pretty annoying, I have to admit,” he said. “Sometimes you look back and think, ‘How has that happened?’ But you have to turn the page. If you get stuck in the past you’d have to quit golf. Sometimes it pops up in my head. It took me a while to figure out why it happened.
“You always hear the story about the poor guy who missed his card by one spot, and it was me this time. It’s tough, but it’s happened to 39 guys before me since The European Tour began.
“Hopefully I’ll learn from it. Every shot counts. Maybe last year there were a couple of shots where I didn’t take it too seriously. So this year, if I’m on for an 80 I want to shoot 79. You learn from your experiences.”
Far from dwelling on the situation, Tullo is relishing new challenges, including a move from Spain to London with his wife, Magdalene, and two year old son, Daniel.
“I prefer Spain if I’m honest, but my wife wants to work and she can get a working visa in Britain,” he said. “So the idea is for her to work there and get a steady job as a physio, which might not happen until next year. We’re living in East Dulwich right now, but hope to move to Battersea or Wimbledon, where we have a few friends.
“We’re going back to Spain for the next couple of weeks to relax and spend some time on the beach and get mentally and physically prepared for next 12 or 13 tournaments, which hopefully might hold a win for me somewhere.
“The goal for this season is definitely the top ten in the Rankings. If you finish 11th to 20th you get far fewer chances to play on The European Tour the following season. I have no clue if I’ll make it or not. I’m trying to put all my energy into it.
“In 2010 I won twice (the Rolex Trophy and the Egyptian Open) and finished ninth, so there is a long way to go. But we’re not even halfway through the season yet so there’s plenty of time.”