Chris Hanson Tour blog: The final countdown in Portugal
The latest blog from European Tour star Chris Hanson..
It’s a funny time of year on the European Tour for many people and for so many different reasons…
A handful of players are trying to win the OOM, some players are on the bubble to qualify for the final series of events (top 75), and many people like myself are fighting to keep their playing rights for another year.
That number is 110 on the OOM but could potentially fall lower if some players do not fill their playing criteria (it ended up as 111).
I’m sure everyone is feeling different about being on the bubble of 110:
- some players have been out here for 10 years and to lose their card would be a huge change in their career, I think some would not find it easy going back to the Challenge Tour and I suppose many won’t do it!
- some guys are back and forth between the two Tours each year and a visit to Q-School or another year on the Challenge Tour is not something they fear but probably frustrates them more…
- some players are coming to the end of their careers or reducing their playing schedules and for them also it may not be a huge issue… they may just play a few selected invites, play on a past winners’ category etc, etc, etc…
But for me it’s an amazing position to be in!!
Twelve months ago, and pretty much to the day of writing this, I was looking at job options, thinking what on earth could I do with myself, I only knew golf!
I’d had 10 great years playing this game but financially it was make or break time, it had caught up with me and I was struggling to afford to get myself on the plane to China for one of the last few Challenge Tour events and even enter European Tour Q-school.
But thanks to many of my amazing sponsors, they helped get me to these events and the rest is history!
From gaining the last card at Q-School to finding myself inside the top 110 with one event to go is pretty special and it’s been an incredible journey to date!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blogs along the way…?
Whatever was to happen in Portugal, and wherever I was destined to finish, I will always be grateful for the support I received from sponsors, friends, family and my coach Mark Pearson for pushing me that bit further and believing in me!!
Sometimes in this game you feel so far away from your goals but at the same time you are so, so close!!!
So after being invited as a guest to Woodsome Hall’s annual dinner, which was again a great honour, I apologised and fled the evening early, as a 4.30am taxi to the airport on a Sunday morning was not ideal!
But it made perfect sense to be out in Portugal early, to get some really good practice in and not be rushing around flying in on a Tuesday!
Some nicer weather, some great greens/facilities and the luxury of staying at my good friend Bob Whiteley’s villa were also pretty good selling points.
Once again a huge thank you to Mark Pearson my coach, who made the trip out on the Tuesday to keep a watchful eye on my preparation, I can’t fault his commitment!!
So after four solid days’ of practice there was nothing else to tick off my to-do-list, I was ready for another challenge!
The draw this week was clearly ‘fixed’ as players on the ‘bubble’ were paired together, for example I was with Oliver Fisher and Jason Scrivener, both guys outside the bubble who went on to gain their 2017 cards! “Bravo lads”.
Another ‘bubble’ group was good friend Daniel Im playing with Eddie Pepperell and Craig Lee…
…it’s a hell of a sport and to hear Im’s caddy tell the story of how Pepperell hit it OB on the last and Craig Lee 3 putted the last to both miss the cut by 1 and pretty much forfeit the chance of keeping their card was tough to hear…
It is tough, the standard is high, especially with the cut falling at -4!!
I played solid for two days (-6) on what can only honestly be described as an easy and unfairly set up course… soft greens and virtually NO rough to be found on the course anywhere!!
A bomber’s paradise, with maybe only 3 holes where you have to really hit a ‘proper’ tee shot! (7th, 14th, and 18th).
Not my cup of tea, as you don’t get the reward for driving well… but for once I got my head around that and dug in making enough birdies to see me through to the weekend!!
That was the first challenge, it’s been a tough month mentally… I could not go a day without someone asking “have you done enough to keep your card…?”
Or “is that 2017 wrapped up…?” I really had no idea!!
It was also a pretty much 50/50 split of people thinking and saying I had already done enough with the other half saying one more cut and you’re safe!!
So after missing the cut comfortably in Germany and Scotland it felt as though Portugal was my last hope to hang on…
An interesting mindset to deal with, and one that was totally new to me!! Hence me turning off all social media and contact with the world this week until Sunday afternoon!
Except my wife of course!! Ha ha!!
Chris Hanson Tour blog from Portugal
I spent a whole week like many others watching the scores from the British Masters and counting pennies of who could pass me and what people needed to do… I was number mad and it was driving me and my family crazy!
This week I shut off from it all – no leaderboards, no scoreboard watching, and no talking about what I needed to do!
As I all needed to do was control myself, what everyone else did was out of my control!!
So good golf from me was my only hope!
For two days our group played some great stuff, both Oli and Jason played some fantastic stuff, we really pushed each other along and had a laugh out there! Surprisingly it felt pretty relaxed!
I don’t know what then changed for me but Saturday sure didn’t feel the same… after a good start my game went backwards, I totally lost the pace on the greens, hit some poor shots, got frustrated and after shooting +3 I pretty much hit the bottom of the leaderboard in 75th position!
I NEVER GIVE IN!! And round 4 the only thing I knew was every single Euro may make a difference to the OOM, playing with Daniel I knew I had to stay ahead of him in the OOM… but again I could not control his score or anyone else’s, so I didn’t want to mentally get into a match play with him!
To ‘smoke’ my drive off the first and walk off with bogey wasn’t the start I was after!
But from then on I probably played the most positive round of golf of the year…
I holed out for birdie from 15ft on 2 and 4…
A two putt birdie on the par 5 5th followed by a 20ft birdie on the 6th! I’d bounced back from my start, got the pace of the greens and the bit between my teeth!
Two solid birdies on 11/12th and I got to -5….
I got out of position on 14 and compounded my error from the fairway bunker making double – I mentally took it amazingly well – and then made three great birdies in a row to stand on the last 6 under! #bounceback
Have any of you played the 18th? It’s a horror! Off the back tee it’s 460 yards, we played it Sunday in a strong cross wind off the water down the left side…
The fairway banks off to the water, and then miss the fairway right you can find some of the only rough on the course and a couple of big bunkers!
Really, if you miss the fairway you’re not making par as you’re then playing over the water to the green! I blazed it miles right into a trap (it wasn’t going left) and was pretty happy to chop it down the last and make 5!!
If you did watch the coverage you would have seen how that hole can get you… Graeme Storm made bogey down there to lose his card by €101… a very harsh ending to his valiant fight back over the last few events!
I walked off the course really pleased with how I produced a score under what was a totally new pressure for me…
I then had the 5 hour wait to see how the scores panned out… and three of those hours were sat in front of the TV watching it unfold!
I’m not going to lie… the first hour I was pretty chilled, I’d played good, was pretty happy thinking I had a chance… but then I think it sunk in… it may or may not happen now… and after the amazing year I didn’t want to see it not happen and be back to Q-School….
I wanted another crack at it in 2017!!
I sat in the caddies’ lounge with Steve, it was pretty quiet but everyone was doing the arithmetic, and I can honestly say I felt my heart pounding in my chest… I’ve never had that on the course never mind off the course, but it sunk home how much I wanted this and it felt like it was possibly going to be taken away from me…
“What if Hansen wins… or Lawrie… will that knock me out…?” There were so many scenarios!
I ended up leaving the course for the airport with a few hours of play to go… it probably helped getting away from it… and then finally I got the confirmation from my caddy Steve as I walked through security at the airport!
A huge feeling off relief sank in… but it never hits home until I speak to Laura and the emotions then flow out of us both!!
It’s been an incredible year – to share it with her, my children, my close family and friends has been truly amazing!!!
And then to write these blogs and get the unbelievable response to my ‘life on Tour’ makes it even more worthwhile!
There really are too many people to thank, and I would be scared to miss people out! But you all know who you are and what part you have played, it’s been a #teamhanson effort and without family, friends, coaches and sponsors the dream wouldn’t be remotely possible!!!!!
One of the best pieces of advice I was given when I started out was…
“surround yourself with good people who believe in you and who you believe in”
And I’ve done just that!!!!
A HUGE THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!!!
PS – thanks to all the Crosland Heath members, Woodsome Hall members, friends from the Yorkshire area and new friends from this week who walked the course supporting me, to have you cheering me on all the way was fantastic!
And again a huge thank you to my good friend Bob Whiteley for letting us use his amazing villa at Pinheiros Altos, it sure helped keep me and Steve relaxed!