Ross Biddiscombe talks us through the first stage of European Tour Q School.

Quietly and without making hardly a ripple on the giant pool that is world golf, the First Stage of the 2015 European Tour Q School has just ended.

As always, the triumphs and tragedies of this annual last chance saloon for a place on next year’s Main tour will cause tears of both joy and pain.

This year’s Q School is significant because it marks the 40th anniversary of event in Europe. It is now the oldest and most competitive of these golfing torture chambers because the PGA Tour in America now graduates new players only via a full season on the Web.com Tour.

Eight First Stage tournaments in England (three), Scotland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Portugal that began in mid-September and ended last Friday have seen 195 players progress from an original field of 568.

That means 373 hopeful European Tour players are already disappointed this year. They include former Walker Cup stars like Jamie Moul and Wallace Booth plus a certain Javier Ballesteros, son of Seve.

However, the group that progressed includes many interesting stories:

  •  Heroes of this year’s Walker Cup and also the recent Alfred Dunhill Championship Paul Dunne (in Austria) and Jimmy Mullen (at Collingtree Park) both came through safely;
  •  Former Open champion Paul Lawrie’s son Craig advanced from Frilford Heath last week tied 18th;
  •  Regular Tour players of the past such as Jamie Elson, Gary Houston and Zane Scotland had no trouble moving forward;
  •  Former Q School winner Carlos Rodiles of Spain is bouncing back after finishing tied 11th in Portugal.

Again, golfers came from every conceivable country, as far away as America, Australia and South Korea, but only 25 will be handed full status on the 2016 European Tour calendar at the end of the whole competition. The others will settle for Challenge Tour or regional tours like the Tartan, Alps or EuroPro.

The four Second Stage tournaments take place concurrently starting on 6 November with the six-round Final Stage at PGA Catalunya near Girona from 14-19 November.

 

Ross Biddiscombe has been writing about Q School since 2006 and his latest book on the subject, Cruel School: The 40-year History of golf’s European Tour Qualifying School will be published next month. For more details, email: constantinenw3@gmail.com.