Thursday, 01 February 2018
  (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
Rafael Gomez became the first Argentinian since Horacio Carbonetti to win Staysure Tour Qualifying School after carding a five under par final round for a seven under par total.

Signing for a first round of 80, nine over par, Gomez made an incredible recovery at Pestana Golf Resort, finishing 16 under par through the following three rounds, emulating Carbonetti's success in 2002.

Gomez, a two-time winner on the European Challenge Tour during the 2005 season, secured one of five coveted cards for the 2018 Staysure Tour season, which starts in the United Arab Emirates at the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq.

Starting the day two under par, Gomez moved to four under with birdies on the second and third holes. He made the turn three under par but then birdied the tenth, 11th and 12th holes in succession.

The 50 year old bogeyed the 15th hole but finished with birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to sign for a five under par fourth round.

“I’m so happy, especially after the 80 I had in the first round,” said Gomez. “I worked out what was wrong after my first round and put it behind me. I promised to my family that I would win, and I’m so happy to have finished first. I’m very excited about the year ahead.”

Left to right: Rui Gago, Director of Golf, Pestana, Julian Kearney, CEO, Staysure, Mauricio Molina, David Shacklady, Rafael Gomez, Paul Streeter, John Kemp and David MacLaren, Head of the Staysure Tour.

John Kemp, a member of Woburn Golf Club, host venue of the Travis Perkins Masters, was bidding to become the first amateur golfer since Denis O’Sullivan in 1997 to win Qualifying School, but would settle for second place on three under par.

“It’s a bit of a shock,” said Kemp “I probably played my worst golf of the week out there today, but it was all about the result. I was watching the boards as I went around the course, so I knew what I needed to do out there.

“I was a little bit anxious but I managed to grind it out on the back nine. The guys I play with back home will say that I can get a score even if I’m not playing at my best.

“It’s fantastic that I’ll get the chance to play on my home course on the Tour, that’s something I’ll be looking forward to all year.

“The support I’ve had from everyone back home has been fantastic this week, and a special thanks goes to my wife who has been very supportive while I’ve been here.”

Paul Streeter finished third on one under par, and David Shacklady, who missed out on a card after losing in a three-man play-off in 2017, secured his playing rights for 2018 with a par on the 18th hole for a one over par total.

As in 2017, the final card needed to be decided by a play-off, with the South American pair of Angel Franco and Mauricio Molina going head-to-head.

Chilean Franco and Argentine Molina both parred the first extra hole, but Molina birdied the second to take the fifth and final card for 2018.

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