Thelen won the Qualifying School Final Stage in 2010 and after retaining his card in 2011, the former club professional’s career took flight the following year with three wins in one season leaving him in third place in the 2012 Order of Merit on €251,772, behind double Senior Major winner Roger Chapman and Barry Lane respectively.Englishman Paul Wesselingh provides further inspiration, having finished runner-up to American Dick Mast at the 2012 Qualifying School Final Stage before embarking on a dream season in which he claimed a maiden victory at the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship en route to finishing fifth in the Order of Merit.
The Senior Tour Qualifying School begins at Stage One from January 24–25, when more than 80 hopefuls will compete over each of the two Pestana venues, Gramacho Golf Course and Silves Golf, before the qualifiers are joined by the 17 exempt players at the Final Stage.Taking place for the 12th time at Pestana’s Vale da Pinta, from January 28–31, the Final Stage will be contested by 72 players over four rounds – with a cut after the third round - and the leading six players will receive full cards for the 2013 season. Players finishing in positions seven to 14 will receive conditional cards.
Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the Senior Tour, said: “We are delighted with the increasing interest in our Qualifying School and these players are sure to help continue the rise in standards which we see year upon year on the Senior Tour.“The Qualifying School provides a fantastic opportunity for players to compete with some of golf’s greatest legends on the Senior Tour and the stories of Tim Thelen and Paul Wesselingh are sure to have inspired many ambitious and talented golfers over the age of 50.
“The quality of golf, competition and professionalism on the Senior Tour continues to grow with the emergence of hugely gifted and physically fit players such as Roger Chapman, Peter Fowler and Barry Lane, so it takes a lot of talent and hard work to challenge alongside golfers of that calibre. We are sure that the Qualifying School will unearth some more hidden gems in 2013.“We must also thank the Pestana Group as they once again provide golf courses of the highest standard for tournaments of such importance. We are sure the players will not only enjoy the test of golf provided, but also the wonderful Pestana Hotels where many of them will be accommodated.”
Among the players exempt for the Final Stage are former European Tour champion Stephen Bennett, who won the 1985 Tunisian Open, former Senior Tour winner Bertus Smit, who claimed the 2009 Speedy Services Wales Senior Open, and 2007 Jersey Senior Classic champion Bobby Lincoln.The Pestana Group is Portugal’s largest international tourism and leisure group and one of the largest in Europe where it ranks 25th.
Starting with a 300 bedroom hotel in Madeira Island in 1972 the family owned Pestana Group has grown steadily and currently includes in its portfolio of nearly 90 four and five star hotels worldwide with two brands: Pestana Hotels & Resorts and Pousadas de Portugal.The Pestana Golf Resort will be hosting the European Senior Tour Qualifying School for the 12th time in 2013 and has always proven a popular venue with participating players.
Pestana Golf Resort is one of the best of the 30 top class golf courses dotted along The Algarve – Portugal’s 150 miles of sunny coastline which stretches from Sagres in the west and touches the Spanish border in the east.
One of Europe's favourite golfing destinations, the Algarve is renowned for its many world class golf courses, excellent amenities and warm and dry playing conditions. Generations of golf enthusiasts have made the Algarve their first choice for a golf holiday and this unbeatable combination of stunning coastline, year round sunshine, superb courses and a friendly laid back atmosphere has proved a winner for half a century.
The qualities of Algarve golf which first attracted Sir Henry Cotton in the 1960s continue to attract the world’s greatest professionals today as the 2005 World Cup, the Portugal Masters and numerous tournaments testify.
For more about Pestana Golf, click here - http://www.pestanagolf.com/For more about Golf in the Algarve, please visit, http://www.visitportugal.com