The European Tour’s Qualifying School First Stage will return to Collingtree Park Golf Course after a successful inaugural hosting at the Northamptonshire venue in 2015, when the opening leg of the famous golf marathon begins in September.
The Johnny Miller-designed layout, which has a long association with the European Tour, including hosting the British Masters on two occasions, in 1995 and 1996, joined the prestigious list of First Stage venues.
It fast became hugely popular with the players and two of the qualifiers there last September, Englishmen Daniel Gavins and Matthew Southgate, went all the way to the Final Stage before successfully negotiating the six-round marathon to earn cards for the European Tour.
An emotional Matthew Southgate after earning a European Tour card at Final Stage last year
The First Stage will once again take in eight venues in six different countries, with The Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course in Scotland and Fleesensee Golf and Country Club in Germany kicking things off in Section A, from September 15-18.
From September 22-25, Austria’s Golfclub Schloss Ebreichsdorf and England’s Collingtree Park will then host Section B before Section C takes place at Ribagolfe in Portugal and Golf d'Hardelot in France.
The first hurdle of the Qualifying School adventure will conclude with Section D at Golf Club Bogogno in Italy and Frilford Heath in England, before the qualifiers move on to the Second Stage in November.
More than 750 players are once again expected to enter the First Stage of the fabled Qualifying School in the hope of emulating the 2015 success of Gavins, Southgate and five others - Clement Berardo, Laurie Canter, Paul Dunne, Francesco Laporta and Lukas Nemecz - by making it through all three stages and realising their European Tour dreams.
Last year, a record 778 players from 47 different countries teed off in the First Stage, emphasising the multi-national nature of the European Tour and its Qualifying School, and from there 195 players made it to the Second Stage.
“We are delighted to have retained all eight of our superb Qualifying School First Stage venues after such a successful year in 2015,” said Mike Stewart, Director of the European Tour’s Qualifying School.
“We are especially thrilled that we will return to Collingtree Park after it joined the rota last year, becoming a hugely popular addition to what was already a prestigious list of some of Europe’s most beautiful venues.
“Our partner venues are a crucial element to the success of the Qualifying School and we thank them all for bringing such professionalism and dedication to what has become a famous fixture on the golfing calendar.”
Richard O’Driscoll, Managing Director of Collingtree Park, said: “We are delighted to be once again hosting the Qualifying School First Stage in 2016 after a hugely successful first time last year.
“Having so many quality golfers enjoy our course last year was a real thrill for everybody involved with the club and the feedback we received from the players was excellent. We hope this will be a long-running partnership with the European Tour.”Last year at the Qualifying School Final Stage, American Daniel Im, Ulrich Van den Berg of South Africa and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui shared first place as a total of 27 players claimed their cards for the European Tour for the 2016 season.