Andrew Marshall has been there and done that all before. Six times, in fact, and the Englishman returns to PGA Catalunya this week to do it all again at The European Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage.
For the seventh time, the Sutton-in-Ashfield born 39 year old will travel to the Final Stage to face the unique, intimidating atmosphere of another six-round marathon in northern Spain, with the Holy Grail at its culmination a week on Thursday a European Tour card for 2013.
Twice before Marshall has succeeded in the same quest, once in 2002 and again in 2011 in what was the most dramatic of climaxes, a finale that demanded the steeliest of nerves from the former Challenge Tour Member.
Needing to par the last two holes of the resort’s renowned Stadium Course to get in on the mark, Marshall hacked out of bushes, chipped onto the green to ten feet and holed the putt at the 17th, then sunk a 15-footer for par at the last having again been in trouble off the tee to the take the 37th and last card.
Despite his last-gasp heroics in December, it has been a year of mixed fortunes for Marshall in his first year back on the top tier of European golf since 2007.
A mid-season purple patch, topped by a tied 12th place finish at the BMW International Open in Cologne – in which Marshall claimed a luxury BMW after making a hole in one during the second round – gave way to a disappointing early autumn where four consecutive missed cuts in September and October saw him slide down the rankings in The Race to Dubai.
In spite of a valiant effort at the UBS Hong Kong Open, where Marshall needed a significant finish to be in with a chance of retaining his playing privileges for next season, a tied 40th finish in Fanling left the Englishman 13 places outside the magic top 119 in The Race to Dubai with season earnings of €146,459.
Marshall says he will approach the challenge at PGA Catalunya with perspective, however, knowing that his game and temperament is up to the task.
“Obviously I’ve had a few good solid rounds,” he said in the wake of his final event of the season in Hong Kong.
“I holed nothing apart from a lovely putt on the last but even then, I thought I had missed it. But even if I had shot 63 in the final round for eight under, the scoring was that good that it still wouldn't have been enough – and I would have been fairly cheesed off if I had done that and still missed out.
“So as long as the greens aren't too grainy in Spain, I think I'll do quite well if I can play as I've played this last four days.”
With only the top 25 and ties gaining their playing privileges this time around, Marshall knows he will have to step up his game this year in Girona.
“I've played super golf and that's the most important thing,” he reflected. “So if I can take that into this week, touch wood, I should be okay.
“I'll give myself a really good chance and even though there are only 25 cards, if I can just play like I did last week in Hong Kong - just keep doing what I'm doing - it will have to come.”
Six times Marshall has felt either the elation or anguish that the Q-School Finals consistently elicits.
Which of the myriad emotions are in store for him this year in his seventh shot at glory?