'If you can't win on the EuroPro how can you expect to win on the European Tour?'
In recent years, many outstanding golfers have progressed from the EuroPro Tour to pursue a career at the highest level of professional golf. Ryder Cup ace Tyrrell Hatton, European Tour winners Jordan Smith and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston all cut their teeth here.
The developmental tour’s revamped schedule for 2019 will see players compete for five coveted promotion spots to the Challenge Tour over 16 main events, including the season ending Tour Championship, as well as more than £850,000 in prize money.
Richard Mansell finished 12th in the 2018 Order of Merit in his rookie season and is looking to go even better this year.
We sat down with him to find out more about his golf and what it takes to succeed on the EuroPro Tour.
Getting over the line in 2019
“The way I’m going to play practice rounds will be different. I’m really going to start preparing a lot better. Last year it was very easy to play a practice round with mates for a tenner but this year I’m going to treat it seriously.
“I’m going to do them on my own and go around with my yardage book and really plan out the course, so I know it properly.
“Although I finished 12th on the Order of Merit, I was a lot closer than that looks to graduating to the Challenge Tour. It’s fine lines on the EuroPro Tour.
“I feel that I’m a better player this year. I’ve worked really hard this winter on some of my weaknesses and I’m full of confidence.”
Learning from others and what is needed to win
“It’s a case of knowing your game really well and knowing what you do well and not really worrying about other people. Dave Coupland is a great example of someone who only thinks about his own game and plays to his strengths.
“When he won at Foxhills, he was in the final group with myself and Billy Spooner who hits it a ridiculously long way, and I’m quite long too.
“A lot of the time we were quite far ahead of Dave but that didn’t seem to faze him, he didn’t change the way he was playing his game and he came out on top.
“It just shows that there is more than one way to win and believe in your own ability.
“You’ve got to expect that at some point you’re going to get over the line.”
The 2019 schedule
“It’s exciting. I think the schedule looks really good.
“The events are quite packed together again which I think is good as it gets you used to travelling and playing week-in-week-out which is what you’ll be doing as a touring pro on the European or PGA Tour.
“I haven’t played any of the new courses on the schedule, but I’ve heard good things.
“I’m itching to get going. I’ve spent some time in Portugal over the winter playing some tournaments to stay ready and have been doing a lot of work.”
Going low on the EuroPro Tour
“Going off the schedule that we played last year, they set the courses up in such a way that good golf gets rewarded and I think that’s how it should be.
“You should have to shoot 5- or 6-under in the final round to win because you’ve got to learn to do that. It’s a developmental tour and you’ve got to develop all aspects.
“People have asked me why I didn’t get off the EuroPro Tour and it’s because I didn’t win. If you can’t win on the EuroPro Tour then how do you expect to win on the European Tour? That comes down to a question of whether you have the game that can go low.”
Financing a EuroPro Tour career
“If you’re playing golf, you’ve got to expect to spend money.
“You’ve got to appreciate that it is a stepping-stone tour and you can’t go on there expecting to make a fortune.
“It’s good that the prize money is so top-heavy. It’s a developmental tour, you’ve got to win, you should get rewarded for winning.
“If you believe in yourself then of course you’re going to spend money. You may have a backer or someone supporting you, so obviously they believe in you because they are giving you the opportunity to go and play.
“I would say to anybody that if you don’t believe you can win, don’t bother.
“You see a lot of guys who unfortunately have to keep a part-time job to help fund themselves.
“There are people for whom this is their full-time job, every bit of their time is going into their profession, which is golf. And if you are fortunate enough to be in that position then you’re already at an advantage.
“But you can’t really go on there worrying about money because if you can profit on the tour then you’ve had a really good year.”
The direction the EuroPro is headed
“If you look at the players who have come off the tour like Tyrrell Hatton and Jordan Smith, who won the order of merit on the EuroPro, the Challenge Tour and then got a win in his first year on the European Tour, it works.
“The stuff they are doing with Cobra and Puma is great, it’s giving a lot of players opportunities.
“Everyone needs support. You can’t do this job if you haven’t got someone supporting you because it does cost a lot of money.
“The Sky Sports coverage is brilliant, doing the interviews and playing in front of cameras, it is developing us as a person and as a player in terms of handling that side of things.”
Does the Tour Championship need to see some alterations?
“Personally, I think so.
“I still think that the prize money needs to be top heavy but maybe not quite as much as it is now because, as it is, if you make the Tour Championship you’ve still got a chance.
“I can see the pros and cons of that.
“If you’re looking from the point of view of the EuroPro Tour as a developmental tour with players needing to learn how to win, it is a good idea to have it how it is.
“But I could look at it from the perspective of a professional golfer who’s had a really solid year knocking out top-10s, top-5s and shooting good scores but then not getting off the tour.
“It depends who you are and how you’re looking at it, and that’s why next year I want to be in a position where I’m not going into the Tour Championship needing to win.”
Shooting 58 in a Florida Pro-Am
“It’s funny. I played at The Buckinghamshire with Oli Fisher, who’s the first person to shoot 59 on the European Tour but I didn’t mention that I shot 58 because it wasn’t really in a proper event, so I didn’t want to take it away from him!
“It was great. It was an event with a lot of money involved and big business people in Florida, my group contained a couple of really wealthy men.
“I remember starting with two birdies and one of the guys, who was a CEO, was shouting and screaming saying he was going to have the contract ready for me because he wanted to sponsor me. Obviously it was a joke.
“It kind of just happened. I wasn’t thinking about it and I didn’t know what score I was on; my last 10 holes were a bit ridiculous!
“I’ve never felt like that on a golf course where I just wasn’t really thinking.
“It was amazing because when you get into proper tournaments and you’re on your own, you think it matters more and there’s so much more emphasis on it.
“Whereas that, I just had so much fun on the day I was capable of shooting a round like that at a 7000-yard golf course.”
2019 EuroPro Tour schedule
May 22-24: Welwyn Garden City
May 29-31: Harleyford
June 5-7: Donnington Grove
June 19-21: Cumberwell Park
June 26-28: Dudsbury
July 3-5: Macdonald Linden Hall
July 10-12: Macdonald Portal
July 17-19: Spey Valley
July 24-26: Caversham Heath
August 8-10: Mannings Heath
August 13-15: Frilford Heath
August 21-23: Macdonald Hill Valley
August 28-30: Tulfarris
September 4-6: Studley Wood
September 18-20: Newmachar
Tour Championship (venue and date TBC)
Visit the EuroPro Tour website for more information.