Monday, 03 February 2014
Stephen Mondshine  (Getty Images)
Stephen Mondshine (Getty Images)
Stephen Mondshine owns an event ticketing company in his native Texas but the American’s dreams of gaining a golden ticket to a new life in professional golf received a huge boost as he carded a three under par 68 to share the lead after the opening day of the European Senior Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage.

The 49 year old was joined at the top of the leaderboard at Pestana Golf Resort’s Pinta Course by Frenchman Jean Pierre Sallat, who also forged a successful career before setting his sights on professional golf.

Sallat is a former professional footballer who played at the highest level in France, for Bordeaux and Le Havre, and his return to the Q-School for the seventh time got off to a fine start.

In contrast, it was Mondshine’s debut at the Qualifying School Final Stage and his first venture to Europe as he aims to follow in the footsteps of his fellow Texan Tim Thelen.

“I played really well,” said Monshine, who turns 50 in July. “I had just one hiccup when I double-bogeyed the ninth hole, but I hit the ball really well and putted well.

“I thought I would birdie four out of the last five holes but I missed a birdie putt at the last. I just got the rhythm and started hitting it close and the greens were in good shape so I made the putts coming in.

“This is the first time I have ever been in Europe. Years ago I played some mini-tour golf in Texas and I've been practising and playing with good players recently and just got better so I just decided I would give it a shot.

“I played with Tim (Thelen) a few times in Texas and he’s a really good player. I’ve been a pretty good golfer all my life and I tend to play well in tournaments, so I thought I’d see how it all stacked up. 

“I've got a ticketing company, Moontickets, in Houston so that has given me time to play plenty of golf. It takes a lot of pressure off that I have my own company but the busy life of working is not very conducive to golf so it’s a double-edged sword.

“Luckily my wife has been really good about letting me practise for the last two months, she’s been great.”

Sallet, meanwhile, carded six birdies on the way to his three under 68 over the pristine Pinta Course in the Algarve region as he hopes to emulate his success of 2004, when he finished tied fourth at the Final Stage to earn a maiden season on the Senior Tour.

There were four players tied for third place on two under par, including former European Tour winner Andrew Murray, who had the advantage of having his son and Challenge Tour player Tom on the bag.

“I'm really pleased with how I'm playing and a bit disappointed to shoot 69,” said the Englishman, who won the Panasonic European Open in 1989. “I feel like I've left two or three out there to be honest.

“Tom is fantastic on the bag. We didn’t get one read wrong or one club wrong. He’s great to have around. The only problem is that he sometimes thinks it’s a wedge in and I think it’s an eight iron!”

Alongside Murray were Australia’s Glenn Joyner, Englishman Gary Marks and Paul Mayo of Wales. There will be a cut after the third of four rounds at Pestana Golf Resort’s Pinta Course before the top six receive full membership for the 2014 season, while those placed seventh to 14th earn conditional cards.


 


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