Looks can be deceiving – just ask Lee Slattery, whose season will now culminate at the European Tour's Q School. But it all could have been so different
As things turned out in Portugal the 115th player on the Race to Dubai, Gaganjeet Bhullar, was the last man in to keep his card. When looking for the archetypal hard-luck story you tend to look to the next man on the list, in this case Hugo Leon, but Lee Slattery will surely reflect on his 2019 with more than a hint of ‘why me?’
The Englishman missed out by less than €100 in 2007 but this year almost surpasses that. He began last week in 115th spot and then missed the cut at Vilamoura which meant that he would surely slip down the rankings and lose his card.
From the outside looking in it looked like a 12th missed cut in 26 starts and not quite good enough. Then you have a closer look and seven of those 12 blank weekends all came courtesy of coming up one shot shy.
In the space of just over a month he missed out at Hillside, Denmark and then the US Open where he played the last six of Pebble Beach’s front nine in one under, having started at the 10th, to just miss out on a nice pay day.
He then flew straight to the BMW International in Germany where he birdied his last two holes only for the same fate to slap him in the face. A week later at Valderrama there were three doubles in his last 10 holes which put him at three over after two rounds. Needless to say plus two would have seen him through to the weekend.
Fourteen events in to his season and Slattery had made just three cuts. The following week at Lahinch he made the cut, bang on the number, and then came six solid tournaments, an accumulative 49-under par and a whopping pay out in Scotland after opening up with a pair of 64s.
“I found a golf swing at last,” Slattery explained. “I’ve worked harder this winter than I’ve ever worked, doing a lot of work in the gym and changing the body a little bit and trying to hit it further to keep up with the young guys.
“It (the missed cuts) was driving me bonkers because there were a couple of unfortunate circumstances that happened during that. It was frustrating more than anything else but you kind of know your game is quite close. It’s when you start missing cuts by six or seven, that’s when you start worrying.”
On to the Rolex riches of Wentworth and Italy and, hey presto, the leaderboard weaved its magic again and spat Slattery out by a shot. In Italy he picked up three shots in four holes coming home only to take seven at the closing par-5 9th.
109. Singh Brar 469.5 (€306,479.55)
110. Dubuisson 459.6 (€317,589.06)
111. Janewattananond 456.5 (€372,977.56)
112. Porteous 456.0 (€294,050.03 456.0)
113. Grace 451.4 (€383,385.90 )
114. Morrison 449.5 (€301,249.68)
115. Bhullar 446.7 (€298,882.26)
116. Leon 440.6 (€270,012.76)
117. Lee 440.4 (€297,971.99)
118. Lemke 439.9 (€299,187.47)
119. Sordet 428.5 (€256,906.42)
120. Ancer 428.1 (€378,767.06)
121. Slattery 424.9 (€320,267.69)
Just to twist the knife that little bit more the European Tour changed its points system for the 2018-19 season to narrow the gap between the big events – the majors, WGCs and Rolex Series – and the second-tier ones. Previously each euro earned equalled a Race to Dubai point, this year points were awarded to create a more consistent system which would be better for players with lower priority European Tour membership.
Or, if your name is Lee Slattery, it meant that, of the 12 players immediately above him on the Race to Dubai, you earned more money and, previously, would have finished higher.
Slattery will tee it up at Q School for the 10th time on November 15.