The mammoth week that is European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage has arrived at Lumine Golf Club and with less than 24 hours to go until the action begins on the Lakes Course and Hills Course, we have taken a look at some of the names who are set to tee it up.
Last year, the European Tour Qualifying School trophy was shared by Zander Lombard and Alejandro Cañizares, and it is the Spaniard who returns to Lumine Golf Club this year. Cañizares has two European Tour wins to his name – in 2006 and 2014 – but experienced a disappointing season in 2019, securing just one top ten in his 21 outings. However, after his success last year, he could be one to watch this week as he eyes a return to the big time.
In terms of European Tour titles, Michael Hoey is one of the most successful men in the field this week. The Northern Irishman has five victories to his name – in addition to three European Challenge Tour wins – and is playing in Final Stage after navigating a mixed schedule between the European Tour and Challenge Tour in 2019. The 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Champion played 16 times on the European Tour and seven events on the Challenge Tour and finished 180th on the Race to Dubai.
Hugo Leon is a man who has played his golf all over the world since turning professional in 2007 and here at Lumine last year, he secured his debut season on the European Tour by claiming the 24th card at Qualifying School. He enjoyed a fairly positive season, securing four top tens including at the Amundi Open de France last month, but agonisingly missed out on keeping his card by a single spot, finishing 116th on the Race to Dubai, with the top 115 retaining their playing privileges.
Robin Sciot-Siegrist knows all about agonisingly missing out after finishing 16th on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca last week. With the top 15 at the end of the season earning European Tour cards, the Frenchman went into the week in 37th position and knowing he needed to win or come solo second to have a chance of securing his playing privileges. After battling tough conditions for much of the week, particularly on Sunday, Sciot-Siegrist came up the final hole of the year in tied second with Sebastian Heisele. Needing a birdie or for the German, who was playing in the final group, to bogey, the Frenchman rolled his birdie putt narrowly past the whole, before Heisele safely went down for par.
The 2014 Ryder Cup hero is making his third Qualifying School appearance this year, but first since 2006. The Welshman has played 12 consecutive years on the European Tour from 2007 before losing his playing privileges this season, however this week presents him with the opportunity to seal an immediate return. A three-time European Tour winner, Donaldson is arguably best-known for claiming the winning point in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles in 2014, securing the all-important point with a precise wedge shot that was voted Shot of the Year.
Another European Tour winner teeing it up at Lumine Golf Club this week is England’s Lee Slattery. The 41-year-old has won twice on the top tier, at the Bankia Madrid Masters in 2011 and at the 2015 M2M Russian Open, and has been an ever-present on the European Tour since 2011. He finished 121st on the Race to Dubai Rankings this year, narrowly missing out on retaining his playing privileges.
This week marks the end of a long year on the road for South African Bryce Easton. The 32-year-old, along with wife and caddy Lauren, has been travelling the golfing circuit without returning home since February. In recent weeks, Easton teed it up in the two-week Chinese Swing on the Challenge Tour before making his World Golf Championships debut in Shanghai a week later. He finished his Challenge Tour season at the Grand Final in Mallorca last week, ending the year 22nd on the Road to Mallorca Rankings.
Rikard Karlberg finished 158th on the Race to Dubai after playing a limited schedule in 2019. The Swede spoke candidly about his battle with a serious infection and depression in the European Tour’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise earlier this year where he revealed he was unable to play in 2018 and only felt capable of practising in January of this year. The 31-year-old burst back onto the scene with back-to-back top tens on the Challenge Tour in July and August, before following that up with a tie for fifth place at the D+D Real Czech Masters. An additional top ten at the KLM Open was his last stand-out performance as he missed the cut at the Portugal Masters and began his preparation for Qualifying School.