Our man on the ground at Pestana Golf Resorts takes you behind the scenes of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Final…
Picture perfect Pestana
The Vale da Pinta course at Pestana Golf Resorts is hosting the Senior Tour Qualifying School Final for the 12th time this week, and it has surely never looked better. The Algarve is renowned as a golfing hotbed, and Vale de Pinta is one of the jewels in its crown. Designed by famous American architect Ronald Fream and opened in 1992, the 6,553 yards, par 71 layout is an absolute picture, with luscious green fairways lined by fig, almond and olive trees – including one olive tree which is reputed to be more than 1,200 years old. Now that’s a true Senior!
Weather gods are smiling
If last week’s First Stage was something of a challenge in the conditions, with wind and rain a near constant companion, the Final has been anything but. Bright blue skies and glorious sunshine have greeted the field, and the fair weather is set to continue for the remainder of the week. With barely a breath of wind and the temperature set to 20 degrees during the daylight hours, the 75-man field could not have asked for better scoring conditions as they go in search of the six golden tickets on offer for the 2013 Schedule.
20 up for the Q School
This year the Senior Tour Qualifying School is celebrating its 20th anniversary, having started life back in 1993, when Renato Campagnoli won at Collingtree Park. Two years later the Italian won the German PGA Seniors Championship, before adding the De Vere Hotels Seniors Classic the following year, to start a trend which would continue. Of the 18 subsequent winners of the Qualifying School Final – which was not played in 2011 – five went on to capture titles on the Senior Tour, with the 2002 champion Horacio Carbonetti and the 2010 champion Tim Thelen enjoying the most success, with two and three victories respectively. Last year’s winner, Dick Mast, also finished in a tie for third place at the 2012 Senior Open Championship, so there’s every chance this year’s champion will leave his mark on the 2013 Schedule…