Wednesday, 03 January 2018
Brendan McGovern after his birdie on the 18th at the Travis Perkins Masters  (Getty Images)
Brendan McGovern after his birdie on the 18th at the Travis Perkins Masters (Getty Images)
Each year, five coveted cards are up for grabs at Staysure Tour Qualifying School, giving members an opportunity to play on the Tour.

After the successes in 2016 of Magnus P Atlevi and Gary Marks, both winners that season, there were big shoes to fill for the class of 2017.

Clark Dennis

An unknown from the United States, Clark Dennis became the first golfer in history to come through Qualifying School and finish at the top of the Order of Merit in their first year on Tour.

The Texan missed out on one of the five cards in 2016, but returned the following year and took a share of second place at Pestana Golf Resort.

In his rookie year he would win twice, finish runner-up twice and record a further three top-five finishes. He ended the year more than €30,000 ahead of Chris Williams on the Order of Merit.

Atlevi ended 2016 second on the Order of Merit behind Paul Broadhurst, earning the title of Rookie of the Year, and Dennis secured the accolade for 2017 with his victory at the Dutch Masters.

Brendan McGovern

The colourful Irishman earned one of the cards in 2016, but returned to Qualifying School in 2017 to shore up his status on Tour.

He opened with two consecutive rounds of 66 on the Vale de Pinta course, six shots ahead of the nearest challenger after the second day. McGovern would then finish at the top of the leaderboard, a mammoth seven strokes ahead of the chasing pack.

McGovern equalled his best Staysure Tour finish, ninth, on his second appearance of 2017 at the European Tour Properties Senior Classic, and then went one better at the Scottish Senior Open, in a share of eighth at Renaissance Club.

At the Travis Perkins Masters, McGovern produced his best-ever performance on the circuit, finishing in a share of second place at Woburn Golf Club. A superb birdie on the 18th hole at the Duke’s Course saw him finish just one stroke behind winner Phil Golding.

He then finished tied seventh at the Dutch Masters, before rounding out the season with another top-20 finish at the MCB Tour Championship to secure a place in the top 20 on the Order of Merit, guaranteeing his card for the 2018 season.

With another five cards up for grabs at Qualifying School later this month, competition is sure to be fierce – will we see another golfer follow in Clark Dennis’s footsteps in 2018?

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