Rikard Karlberg, who battled illness and depression for 18 months, finished in spectacular fashion as Benjamin Poke ran away with Q School
Nobody remembers who won Q School but they might do when Benjamin Poke makes his way on the European Tour. The Dane, whose dad is from Sheffield, breezed his way through six rounds at Lumine to finish on 25-under, six shots clear of Gregory Havret.
Over the course of his week there was just one double, seven bogeys and a ridiculous 34 birdies. The 27-year-old, who was never part of any national teams, has only played one full season on the Challenge Tour where he was 29th but now he will have the luxury of a full year on the main tour and a host of the best starts.
But the really good stuff always comes further down the leaderboard and one of this year’s heroes was Rikard Karlberg who has had to deal with plenty in the past few years. An infection led to 18 months of mental and physical stress and time away from the game. Try as he might to get better his doctor told him that he was depressed.
Then he got back some of his strength and then, needing a closing birdie, he did this…
Rikard Karlberg, been through all sorts, was T24 at -11 playing the last.
Needs this.. pic.twitter.com/76LOLT3LYG
— Mark Townsend (@MarkTownsendNCG) November 20, 2019
You couldn’t have written a more perfect script, the winner of the 2015 Italian Open was back on the main tour. I asked him for a translation of the celebration and it was along the lines of: “‘It’s so good, come on’ – but more a little bit slang.”
On the same mark, the all-important 12-under, came Karlberg’s playing partner and countryman Niklas Lemke, England’s Dale Whitnell and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet. Whitnell stopped playing the game for a while as it was too expensive, he bogeyed 17 to slip outside the number and then found the green with a hybrid from close to 250 yards.
Gonnet’s heroics came at the 17th where he made a birdie two – the Frenchman had to be persuaded by a friend to enter First Stage where he trebled the last before making it by one before coming through a play-off at the Second Stage.
Elsewhere Bradley Dredge came to the 108th hole also outside the 12-under mark but he then nutted a 3-wood to 10 feet to set up a brilliant eagle. Then there was Dave Coupland who birdied the last two and Sihwan Kim who closed with 63 to move up 38 spots and into the bosom of those on 13-under.
Two shots better was Robin Sciot-Siegrist. The French left-hander tied for second in the Challenge Tour’s Grand Final to come up one shot shy of a place on the European Tour.
Rasmus Hojgaard, one half of Denmark’s identical twins, followed up Tuesday’s 66 with another one to tie for 5th place while his brother Nicolai came up five shots short.
The final word goes to Johannes Veerman of America. After two days he was at 5-over and staring at an early finish, albeit after four rounds, but he then went 67-67-66-66 to make it with two shots to spare.
— European Tour Q-School (@ETQSchool) November 20, 2019
The heroes from the school of 2019 are as follows:
1. Benjamin Poke
2. Gregory Havret
3. Alejandro Canizares
4. SSP Chawrasia
5. Rasmus Hojgaard, Laurie Canter, Aaron Cockerill
T8. Carlos Pigem, Robin Sciot-Siegrist, Jinho Choi, Adrien Saddier, Sami Valimaki
T13. Johannes Veerman, Garrick Porteous, Jake McLeod, Marcus Armitage
T17. Pedro Figueiredo, Bradley Dredge, Jonathan Caldwell, Dave Coupland,
Sihwan Kim, Darren Fichardt, Lars Van Meijel, Toby Tree
T25. Niklas Lemke, Rikard Karlberg, Dale Whitnell, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet
You can see highlights of the final round action on my Twitter feed.