Shacklady missed out on one of the five coveted cards in 2017, losing in a three-man play-off. After coming through this year’s Q-School, he is determined to make the most of this year on Tour.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to be on this Tour. I spoke with David MacLaren after missing out last year, I told him it was the hardest thing in the world to take but I knew the rules of Qualifying School when I entered. I’ve wanted to play on Tour all my life, and I thought this was my best opportunity.
Last year I had lessons and practised all the way up to Q-School. This year, I took time off golf and worked for five weeks – I hardly touched my clubs. I used some videos that my coach Simon Edwards at Windemere did for me, which helped. I played really well in First Stage at Gramacho and then just coasted in. I made a decent start in the first round, but the hardest part all week was sleeping and trying not to think about it. I had a four-putt in one of the rounds, and I did wonder if that would cost me my card – you know it will come down to one shot.
Playing those final few holes is the most horrible feeling in the world. I was stood on the 16th tee and saw Angel Franco unfortunately double-bogeyed the last hole. I then knew I needed par-par to get my card. I left a 45-footer up the hill on the 17th and lagged it close, and on the last I left myself a five-iron to the green. I struggled all day with pace on the green, but knew I had to give it a chance to get to the hole. I had six inches for my par, even though it was that short, I’ve never been so scared of a putt.
Missing out last year was one of the worst things to ever happen to me. That night in the hotel room last year was one of the worst nights of my life. I know it’s difficult to put into perspective, but I’ve still got my parents and I’ve not had a close relative pass.
I made myself play aggressively this year. I knew that was the only way I’d get through it. I started hitting it harder and harder – it was pure grit and determination on that final day. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to do it again, but I don’t think I would want to put myself through that in future.
This is the opportunity of a lifetime. People were telling me last year what a difference it would have made. I told them it would have changed my life, but I’m hoping it will do this year. It’s a great year to get on with more tournaments and Staysure coming on board. It won’t sink in until I’m on the first tee in Sharjah, I don’t think. When I came off that green and signed my card I checked my phone and it was going bananas – my family, friends, everyone at home was contacting me. Last year I had to turn my phone off because I couldn’t bear to read the texts, this year I spent as much time as it took to reply to every single message.