Chris Hanson Tour blog: The highs and lows of a memorable 2016
European Tour star Chris Hanson on a dramatic rookie year on Tour..
It’s time for my final blog of the 2016 season … and it’s a fairly mixed blog to finish the year on which hopefully sums up my amazing rookie year, my emotions, the highlights, the low points, explains more of how the Tour works, and includes plenty of fun facts and stats from the year!
So from gaining my ‘card’ back at Tour School in November 2015 for the 2016 R2D season, the biggest misconception for many people was that I would get to play any event I wanted…
For example, the PGA Championship at Wentworth, The Dubai Desert Classic, Abu Dhabi, The Irish Open … the list goes on!
And I remember back at my celebratory evening at Woodsome following Tour School, where one of the members kindly stood up and gave his congratulations and in that speech spoke about how I would be mixing with Rory week in week out…
But how wrong could that have been … I soon learned that having gained your ‘card’ at Tour School you then start at the bottom of the European Tour ladder and in the category behind the Challenge Tour graduates from 2015.
This means you play all the smaller prize fund events (eg Thailand, Fiji, Prague), many of them being last minute call-ups! The only difference in my category was a ‘re-rank’ around June where the 28 players got shuffled into the order they sat on the OOM.
And that was a ruling which, thankfully, I made good use of!
From gaining the 28th and last card at Q-School, I then re-ranked following the Lyoness Open to 9th in the list!
That move in itself got me into the three-week stretch of Germany, France and Scotland, all of which were very large prize funds.
So, in the end I only played in one event that Rory did and that was only because of the re-rank! (French Open).
My 2016 HIGHLIGHTS
- leading the Trophée Hassan II after 3 rounds following a course record 67 (-5)
- Climbing to the top of the leaderboard in round 1 of the French Open around a notoriously difficult course
- Top 10 in Austria (Lyoness Open)
- Top 10 in Holland (KLM Open) – which then got me into the following week for the Italian Open
- Leading the Italian Open
- Final round 66 (-5) in the Portugal Masters to feel I had given myself a chance of keeping my card for 2017
TOUGH TIMES IN 2016
- travelling to Perth to be 1st reserve and then see two players withdraw after 1 round
- to not get into the event in India when normally they struggle to fill the field – another event I had paid for flights and visas
- to miss out on the Omega Masters at Crans Montana, an event people speak so highly about
- the frustration of seeing players from my category receiving invites into events I couldn’t play
- to not play in either of the English events
Despite these ‘lows’ which, looking back, now sound so trivial, I really hope you can tell from my blogs how pleased I have been with my rookie year, and the great thing about all those ‘lows’ is that with my new improved Category none of those will now be relevant for 2017!
It really can be a year of planning my schedule and a season where so many new opportunities will be presented to me!!! It’s such an exciting prospect and what a truly amazing experience it’s going to be!
MY 2016 PLAYING STATS
- Events played: 22
- Cuts made: 17
- Best finish: 5th
- Top tens: 3 – Trophée Hassan II, Morocco. Lyoness Open, Austria. KLM Open, Holland
- Lowest round: -6 Italian Open
- OOM position: 109
- Highest OWGR: 338
- Air miles: 137,000
- Time in the air: 193 hours
- Flights taken: 41
- Countries visited: 17
My 2016 flight diary!
As always, a huge thank you has to go to my main sponsors, DPPublicity, Abzorb, BetOptima, AZ Intec and Stromberg, as without their support this dream would not have been possible!
And as well as my main sponsors, without the support and sponsorship from so many other local companies, friends, members from Woodsome Hall and Crosland Heath, I wouldn’t be able to compete at this level with the travelling costs of being on the road more than half the year!
And I really have the most amazing team of people around me too!
So thank you Mark Pearson (Coach), Steven Tooby (Caddy), Lee Crombleholme (Mental), Rachael Tibbs (Fitness) and of course Duncan Maxim (Manager).
Without these people I would struggle to get from A to B, carry my bag, hit it straight, think straight and stand tall!!
Only kidding, they do so much more than just that, and most importantly they are all great friends!
I truly have a great team, but the closest team members are my family and close friends. They deal with the ups and downs week in week out, they are always on the other end of a phone and at times I’m sure it’s tougher for them!
They constantly remind me how hard it is watching live scoring … still not sure it’s tougher than playing though – ha ha!
I always get asked about invites and how they work.
Honestly, I don’t know! It was tough at times seeing players from my category and behind me in the list playing events off invites when I wasn’t playing, but that’s what happens to everyone at some point.
Some people know the promoters, sponsors, some management companies run events, invites are sometimes swapped between countries…
But all I do know is that if you play well it takes care of everything and you don’t need invites!
I also heard many players from my category say the Q-School category is a waste of time this year, events have been limited and you may as well not bother…
But I’m so pleased to say myself and eight others from my category retained our cards for the following season and proved the ‘critics’ wrong!
And it is pleasing to know I played the least number of events out of the 9 of us and still finished inside the bubble…
THE BEST EVENTS
The French Open was everything I expected, after hearing so much about the course, and it didn’t disappoint!
Sweden was great, I had the family with me and the crèche, players’ hospitality and the set up was first class, the course was really fun too with a fantastic stadium finish to it!
I’ve played Denmark twice now and the effort that goes into the event is unbelievable, no stone goes unturned and the atmosphere is world class around ‘Himmerland Hill!’
The Dunhill Links was a really cool event to play, at the ‘home of golf’ around three world class courses, with so many family and friends up to watch – and to meet my amateur partner Art Moossmann and his wife Jacqueline was really special!
BEST PLAYER IN 2016
I’ve played with plenty of household names this year: Howell, Harrington, Larrazabal, Willett, Hatton, Wattel, and Ramsay.
But the two stand-out players for me were Bernd Wiesberger and Richard Bland. I think Bland goes so underrated purely for the fact he is yet to win, he seems all round a very solid player!
And Wiesberger was a very impressive ball striker, you only have to check out his results to see that … like Blandy, another top-10 machine!!
So that’s another year of blogging, and it’s great to know next year’s blogs will again be from the European Tour!!
I really hope you’ve all enjoyed my journey around the world and if you ever have any ideas of what you would like to see on my blogs from ‘behind the scenes’, please do say!
The 2017 season actually starts in four weeks in 2016 … so it’s back to Leopard Creek for me in South Africa, followed by the Hong Kong Open, so there should be plenty of fun things to blog about then!!
Thanks as ever, Chris!!!!!