Just when you think you’re down and out, something happens from nowhere and suddenly you regain the momentum that had completely deserted you just when you needed it most. That’s what golf does to you.
England’s Andrew Wilson arrived at the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by The R&A in 20th place on the Road to Mallorca Rankings and had a target on his back as the holder of the final DP World Tour card.
He was bottom of the leaderboard after a four over par opening round of 75 and left with work to do, before an eight-shot swing on day two got him back to level par at the halfway stage. That was where he stayed after round three and the Rankings projector had the 27-year-old expected to finish the season in 22nd position and therefore miss his card for the 2022 season.
The front nine of the final day at T Golf & Country Club was much of the same, with three birdies and three bogeys seeing him make the turn at level par and with work to do. He followed a birdie at the 11th with a double bogey at the par four 13th hole, leaving his hopes of securing his top tier playing privileges in serious doubt with just five holes remaining.
“It was a weird one because I’d just doubled 13 and at the time I said to my caddie ‘I’m goose, my week’s over’,” he said.
But his week was not over. He immediately bounced back with a birdie at the 14th before a trio of birdies in a red-hot finish catapulted him back inside the top 20.
“It was nice to have a good chance at 14 with it being a short hole, so I knocked in a nice one there, then I holed three absolute bombs on the last three holes from 25, 30 foot, 30 foot,” he said.
“I think it was almost easier on the last two holes because I didn’t think I needed to [birdie them]. When I birdied 16 my projected went up to 21st and I knew the other guys out there, it’s hard, it’s a stressful week, so I thought even if I parred the last two holes I’d have a sniff. I hit two really nice putts on the last two holes and thankfully they dropped.
“I always keep an eye on what’s going on. That’s why it’s handy to have that little device so I can check the scores and everything. You’ve got to know where you’re at, especially this late in the year. I had a chance to go for the 18th in two but I felt like I didn’t need to birdie it so I opted against it and it obviously worked out well.”
One thing Wilson does not do is make excuses, and he knew he had work to do after a disappointing opening round, but his week – and season – ultimately ended in success.
“I really struggled in the first round, I was horrendous. I was dead last by a couple of shots. I played nice second round, got going in my last 11 holes to shoot four under and then on Saturday I had a collapse on 12 and 13. I was just waiting to get going and thankfully it came at the right time.
“I’m an emotional mess but I’m buzzing. I can’t really put it into words.”
Andrew Wilson, the 2021 Road to Mallorca No.18.