From US Open humiliation to Q School gloryNovember 15, 2018 Golf News
Mark Townsend rounds up all the final-day action as 27 players landed the golden ticket of a European Tour card – while there were the usual horror stories
And breathe. It’s over for another year. Here are the highs and lows of the final round from Q School…
Classy Gregory has a year to remember
Scott Gregory is only 24 but has already played in four majors thanks to his British Amateur success at Porthcawl in 2016. The last time he played in one of the big four, courtesy this time of coming through qualifying at Walton Heath, he shot 92 at this year’s US Open Shinnecock Hills.
He got the usual pelters on social media but took it all, answered all the questions and explained what went wrong.
“I just couldn’t get driver in the fairway and it spiralled out of control,” he said in June.
— Scott Gregory ⛳ (@ScottGregory5) June 14, 2018
Five months on he now has a European Tour card after coming through all three stages of Q School, one of seven players to do the same. The others to play all 252 holes were amateur Kristoffer Reitan, Kurt Kitayama, Ivan Cantero Gutierrez, Guido Migliozzi, Daniel Gavins and Per Langfors.
Despite a worrying double-bogey at the 2nd Gregory got it to 19-under to make it by three.
“It takes a lot out of you so I’m just over the moon. It makes up for a few of the things that I went through this year. I’d only been playing for a month after coming back from injury when I went to First Stage.
“It’s been a tough year with injury and I didn’t have my best day at the US Open. I probably came under some unfair criticism so to do this not only proves it to myself but it proves it to them. It keeps a lot of people quiet.
“Being out there today was probably the most pressure I’ve felt under ever. You’ve got no idea where you’re going to be after any mistake. I’ll give my dad a call now, I’m going to cry now.. and then my girlfriend.”
Good on him.
Canizares top of the shop
Nobody really remembers who wins Q School but Alejandro Canizares deserves a mention after shooting a best-of-the day 64 to edge out Zander Lombard on the same mark courtesy of the better last-round effort.
The Spaniard, who had to visit Second Stage at Las Colinas, could even afford a fourth-round 74 in there but then played his last 27 holes in 12-under.
Last year the son of Jose-Maria finished last of those to make the cut and had a horrible season making just €7,050 in five months from April. For this effort he will pocket €16,000.
“It’s been a weird two years coming over here and I couldn’t be happier. My future wife is pregnant and I’m going to be a father soon. There’s many good things happening at the moment.”
Penalty scare for Scot
Another European Tour stalwart Marc Warren also progressed despite a late scare at the par-3 17th at Lumine.
“I really underestimated how tough it is. You have no idea what you need to do and you have try and keep moving forward while trying not to make mistakes at the same time. It’s not a pleasant way to play golf but obviously there is a reward at the end of it.”
The blip came when his tee shot finished left of the green with an awkward stance by a greenside bunker.
“I had to take a kind of awkward stance and try and hit it left of where I was aiming to get it toward the flag.”
Then his foot gave way as he began to attempt his recovery.
“I tried to stop my club from hitting the ball so I pulled out of the shot but the club kind of went above the ball. It was unclear whether or not that counted as a penalty shot, even though the intent was to stop,” he said.
“It was a foot higher than the ball so it was pretty clear what the intent was but, in my head, I was telling myself I’d made double-bogey on 17 to try to stay as aggressive down the last to try and make four.”
He did make a birdie, there was no penalty shot and the Scot, at 37 the oldest player to graduate, is back on the European Tour.
“I learned a lot about myself this week, particularly in terms of being patient. I wouldn’t say I’ve been great at that in the past.”
It ain’t over until – and so on
As for some late dramas former Walker Cup player Gavin Moynihan had to hole a nasty putt for par after a couple of late wobbles.
The Dubliner got a mud ball on 15, bogeyed 17 which then meant he needed a par at the last to get his card.
“My chip plugged in the fringe and didn’t release down and then my first putt wasn’t very good. I had a four-footer and it was the most nervous I’ve ever felt in my life. It was the best ball-striking week I’ve ever had, I just didn’t putt well all week.”
Hillsborough’s Joe Dean looked to have done enough after a brilliant 16 holes but was left to rue a bogey at the 8th, his 17th, to miss out by one and the chance to cap off a great year.
New Zealand’s Josh Geary ‘just’ needed a par at the par-5 18th to squeeze in, a hole he had birdied on two of the three times he’d played it this week, but then suffered a horrible six.
Norwegian amateur Reitan was going along very comfortably but then doubled 12 and bogeyed the next three to go outside the 16-under mark. But a birdie at 16 squeezed him back in and he will now turn pro.
Spain’s David Borda had a remarkable week. He was 16 under after two rounds, he then had to birdie the 108th hole after a bogey on 17 to get back to the same mark and qualify on the number.
And, to finish on a high, this character Hugo Leon from Chile made his first birdie of the day at the last to get the job done again on the mark.
I spent small periods of this week worrying that Hugo Leon wasn’t ever going to begin his swing. The Chilean wonder birdied the last to get his European Tour card. Good on him.. pic.twitter.com/fpott61rTS
— Mark Townsend (@MarkTownsendNCG) November 15, 2018