Scots Go Back to School at Final Stage
Nine Scottish professionals will tomorrow begin the gruelling bid to secure their places on the 2012 European Tour, seeking to come through the six-round scramble in Spain for just 30 cards on offer.
It’s that time of the year when fingernails are chewed and nerves shredded as 156 players battle it out at the Qualifying School Final Stage in an event which serves up overwhelming joy and deep despair in equal measure for the school’s pupils.
Northern Spain’s PGA Catalunya Resort, in Girona, is again the venue for an intriguing mixture of seasoned professionals and emerging talents to contest one of the toughest week’s in golf from Saturday until Thursday.
For the Scots involved, it could be a pivotal week in their careers. The trio who came through the Stage Two test on Monday - Callum Macaulay, Alan McLean and Elliot Saltman - join the six Scots who were exempt to the Final Stage, Chris Doak, Lloyd Saltman, Alastair Forsyth, Scott Drummond, Steven O’Hara and Gary Orr.
Tulliallan’s Macaulay, the former Scottish Amateur champion, is in confident mood after finishing joint-second in Murcia at Stage Two, clearly determined to get back to the main European circuit he graced in 2009.
Forsyth, the two-time tour winner who finished in 140th place on the money list this season, will hope to emulate his 1999 achievement when he won the Final Stage. O'Hara, 131st on the Order of Merit and another ex-Scottish Amateur winner, also needs to regain his playing privileges, while the Saltman’s, who became the first brothers to successfully come through the same qualifier 12 months ago, find themselves back again.
Canada-based McLean, who shared second place in the stage two shoot-out earlier this week with Macaulay, will tee-up in good spirits. Orr, Doak and Drummond, the 2004 Volvo PGA champion, also fly the saltire.
England’s Simon Wakefield, the winner at this stage a year ago, returns again, along with compatriot Nick Dougherty, who will be hoping to rediscover the form which saw him capture three European Tour titles, most recently at the 2009 BMW International Open.
Other household names teeing-up include former Ryder Cup trio Paul Broadhurst, Joakim Haeggman and Jarmo Sandelin, as well as Dutchman Maarten Lafeber.
After four rounds at PGA Catalunya – two each at the Stadium and Tour courses – the field will be cut to the top 70 and ties, who will play a further two rounds over the Stadium course to determine the final 30 and ties.