Pestana Golf Resort  (Getty Images)
Pestana Golf Resort (Getty Images)

More than 150 golfers will compete for five places for the 2017 European Senior Tour season when European Senior Tour Qualifying School starts on Thursday, January 26.

Taking place on the Gramacho and Silves courses at Pestana Golf Resort, Portugal, 140 golfers will play for a minimum of 53 places during First Stage qualifying.

The 36-hole First Stage will take place on January 26 and 27 on the two courses, each hosting 70 competitors. The top 53 and ties will join 19 golfers already exempt for Final Stage.

Gramacho was designed by former World Number One Nick Price, alongside renowned golf course architect Ronald Fream. The course incorporates 18 holes and 27 greens, offering a variety of challenges for competitors.

Silves sits at the foot of Monchique mountain and is a testing par-70 course.

A minimum of 72 golfers will then play for the five cards on Pestana’s Vale de Pinta course, designed by Fream, in Lagoa over four days of competition – the ninth time it has hosted the Final Stage of Qualifying School.

After 54 holes, players more than eight shots away from the final qualifying spot will be cut and a final round will be played to determine the successful graduates.

Of the 19 golfers exempt for Final Stage there are eight European Challenge Tour winners, five European Tour winners, two Senior Tour winners and two former Senior Tour Qualifying School winners.

Last year’s Qualifying School winner, Gary Marks, won his maiden Senior Tour title at Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club as he emerged victorious at the Willow Senior Golf Classic.

Magnus P Atlevi, who also secured his card at last year’s Qualifying School, won the inaugural Paris Legends Championship at Le Golf National, ensuring that last year’s graduates were the most successful since 2002.

The most notable Qualifying School graduate is England’s Paul Wesselingh who qualified as runner-up in 2012 and won Rookie of the Year that same year. The following season, he lifted the John Jacobs Trophy for topping the Senior Tour Order of Merit – he now has eight wins to his name.

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