The long, hard road towards the ultimate goal of one of golf’s most coveted prizes – Membership of the European Tour – continues this week when a total of 242 players line up at three courses for the Second Stage of Qualifying School.
The 149 players who successfully cleared the first hurdle of Stage One last month will join the 93 players exempt to the second stage to produce fields of approximately 82 at the three courses in Spain – Pals GC, Emporda GC and Perelada GC.
Stage Two of Qualifying School will be played over 72 holes. There will be a cut after 54 holes with anyone within eight shots of the final qualifying place progressing through to the final round.
The goal is a place in the Qualifying School Finals to be held at San Roque Club and Real Club de Golf Sotogrande in Southern Spain on November 17-22. The successful qualifiers from Stage 2 will mix with those exempt directly to the finals to form a field of 168.
Among the players who successfully negotiated the Qualifying School First Stage were three of the victorious Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team – Simon Dyson, Graham Rankin and Lorne Kelly. England’s Charles Challen, Mark Hilton and Richard Timworth, South African Jean Hugo and Italy’s Frederico Bisazza, winners at each of the five courses involved in Stage 1, will also resume their quest to win a place in the Qualifying School Finals.
The performance of Padraig Harrington over the past four years since he emerged from the Qualifying School finals in 1995 highlights how coveted Membership of the European Tour has become. The Dubliner won the 1996 Peugeot Open de España and finished 11th in his rookie season. Then this year he made his Ryder Cup debut at The Country Club, Brookline, and has moved up to sixth in the Volvo Order of Merit with a string of high performances including four runners-up finishes.
Of last year’s graduates, Spain’s Pedro Linhart seized his opportunity in dramatic style, holding off the challenge of the European Ryder Cup captain Mark James to win the Madeira Island Open. His first European Tour win moved him up to Category 3 and earned him a two-year exemption on the European Tour.
This week another class take the next steps towards the dream of playing on the European Tour.