On a day of drama at Al Mouj Golf, Joël Stalter claimed the last spot in the top 16 during the final round of the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final – but was forced to endure a tantalising wait.
The Frenchman could only watch on as Jens Dantorp and Adrien Saddier battled it out for the final European Tour card on the Omani coast, with Stalter’s name yo-yoing in and out of the projected Road to Oman Rankings as each player moved up and down the leaderboard.
As fate would have it, both players bogeyed the difficult 18th on the Greg Norman-designed course to narrowly miss out – Dantorp needed to win while Saddier required an outright third-place finish – leaving the door open for the 24 year old.
When news broke that Stalter had indeed done enough to secure a European Tour card, the University of Berkeley graduate admitted he was both ecstatic and exhausted.
“I’m wiped out right now,” said Stalter, who beat his fellow countryman Saddier to 16th place by just 741 points.
“The emotions, stress and everything else is starting to come out of me. I am trying to realise what I have accomplished this year – and I feel incredible.
“The key to my season was winning in Sweden. I started off the year really well, but wasn’t quite getting the results that I wanted. I had a lot of top 15s and I got to 30,000 points really quickly, but then I was stagnating, until I had that big week in Sweden.
“That victory gave me the confidence that I could win. Doing it the way I did in a play-off was also huge for me.
“I then managed to get a few more top tens and top fives. I was sixth at the Rolex Trophy, then came fourth a week later at the Bridgestone Challenge which moved me past 80,000 points. But I then started slowing down at all the events with big prize money – and I am so happy that I have managed to get over the line here.”
One shot can mean everything
After 36 holes in Muscat, Stalter was in a state of disarray after carding four bogeys and two double bogeys in his second round to fall down the leaderboard with a score of six over par overall.
One round later and he was level par after a gritty six under par 66, which brought the former Palmer Cup star back into contention for a European Tour card.
Stalter continued to fight during his final round on the 2016 Road to Oman, posting six birdies on his way to a four under par 68, and it is this ability to fight back which the young Frenchman believes is the most important trait to have in golf.
“I have learnt that one shot means everything,” said Stalter, who won his first European Challenge Tour title in a three-man play-off at the Swedish Challenge hosted by Robert Karlsson this season.
“The Grand Final is the proof as it came down to one shot for a few guys here, and it is going to be like that for my whole career, so you have to fight for each shot.
“You might not know it at the time, but that one shot at a tournament in, for example, Belgium can make the difference over a whole season.
“It is important that you embrace those challenges and know the importance of each shot. That’s the main thing I have retained from this season – that one shot can mean everything.”