Six rounds, 108 holes, 25 European Tour cards up for grabs? In this numbers game, the qualifying school final will add up to success for some while others will be left counting the cost of failure. Who said your school days were the best of your life? Not a golfer anyway.
At the Lumine club in north east Spain over the next few days, nerves will be shredded, nails will get nibbled into calloused stumps and profanities will get hissed through clenched teeth as the prolonged process known as “golf’s torture chamber” unravels in a grim scramble that’s as cut throat as Sweeney Todd’s salon.
There will be the usual triumphs, tears, heartbreaks and hissy fits. In fact, it’s a bit like a normal day in the production of The Herald’s sports section.
A motley crew of 11 Scots are involved in the q-school shoot-out and with 10 golfers from the game’s cradle already holding cards for the 2019 Race to Dubai, the tartan army could see a swelling of the ranks come the middle of next week.
Let’s have a look at some of those home hopefuls looking to pass this stern examination …
The most decorated of the Scots at the q-school, the triple tour champion and former World Cup winner is back in the mad house for the first time since 2010 after a fairly grisly campaign on the main circuit.
When morale is low, the qualifying school is hardly the place to find a pick-me-up but Warren has experience and talent in abundance. Somehow, he needs to find a way to bring that out.
As for a bit of straw clutching? Well, Warren’s best finishes in 2018 – a fifth and an 11th – both arrived on Spanish soil.
One of the many 20-something Scots who made a good fist of it on the Challenge Tour this year, Ferguson posted six top-10s during his first full season on the second-tier circuit.
It wasn’t enough to propel him up into the promotion places but he will head to the q-school with a spring in his step after a year of significant progress.
Another new Scottish face on the Challenge Tour this year, Kinross man Hill made his presence felt when he won the Northern Ireland Open in just his fifth start on the circuit.
Having played just half a season after returning home from the US, Hill made impressive strides during the 12 events he contested and will have plenty of confidence going into the q-school rigmarole.
The Kirkhill golfer just missed out on a step-up to the Challenge Tour from the third-tier PGA EuroPro Tour rankings this season, but this sturdy little competitor continues to prove his worth.
He won on the EuroPro Tour this year – he also won on it as an amateur back in 2014 – and having negotiated his way through the first two stages of the qualifying school, he will tee-up at Lumine with plenty of upbeat momentum.
Finished second in the q-school final in 2016 to earn a return to the European Tour but his 2017 campaign started with 15 missed cuts in a row. It’s been a sair old fecht for the talented, big-hitting Scot over the last couple of years.
Even a three shot lead with four to play in the Northern Ireland Open this season ended in crushing despair as he stumbled over the line and surrendered the title to the fast-finishing Hill. His mental resolve will be tested to the full in the mind-mangling qualifying arena.
A year ago, Syme sailed serenely on to the European Tour and he will be hoping to repeat that purposeful q-school performance after losing his card at the end of a rookie season of fluctuating fortunes.
Syme enjoyed the giddy highs of holing a raking putt on the last hole to earn a second place finish in the Shot Clock Masters. That rousing result gave him a sturdy platform to build on but he ran out of steam and now finds himself back to square one.
Source : HeraldScotland