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Q School

Behind the scenes at Q School

The European Tour's Mike Stewart has been going to Q School, in a working capacity, since 1986. He explains how it all works
 

At Q School there’s a completely different vibe to any other week, players keep themselves to themselves and they’re very serious and it’s very intense. It’s very long, six rounds means it’s longer than any other event and it must be mentally draining. At any other event there’s always the following week.

The argument for the six rounds is that the more golf you play, the more the better players will rise to the top. With four rounds there would be a two-round cut. With six you might have a bad day but you will still have more chance to prove yourself. You might just miss a two-round cut but you might only be nine shots back and still within a chance of getting your card.

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Q School starts in the first week of September and there were nine events at First Stage so it is a long slog and the final is closer to a regular tour event so there is a bit of infrastructure there. We’ll have 35 people at Lumine.

It’s a big commitment for a course to give up two courses for so many days but Lumine is a quality venue with two great courses. And the practice facilities are great so we’re delighted to be going back for a third year. We had already been playing Second Stage there so we knew there would be no problems of how things would run and who we would be working with.

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A good story was Rory McIlroy in 2007 where he played First Stage at the Oxfordshire and he qualified comfortably. He then played a couple of events, including the Dunhill Links where he was third, to earn his playing rights for 2008.

Neil Cheetham played San Roque in 2004 and he eagled the last to make it on the mark and within a month he was playing the Alfred Dunhill and he got in a play-off with Charl Schwartzel.

Last year Kurt Kitayama came through all three stages and he’s won twice this year and he nearly did it again in Turkey. Nobody had heard much of him 12 months ago and he’s now in the top 70 in the world.

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The category they earn is probably about right. I don’t think there’s any debate about the guys who finish high up in terms of starts, if you finish further down and just get your card then you might not get so many. We’ve tried to rejig things slightly with how points are applied to make it more equitable so the top-end events don’t offer as many points and there are more points at the lower ones so things have levelled out slightly. It is never perfect but it is being thought about carefully and developed.

Mike Stewart’s first Q School that he worked at was 1986, 15 years later he took over the running of it. For the third year Lumine, recently voted Europe’s Best Golf Venue at the World Golf Awards, will play host as the likes of Jamie Donaldson, Lee Slattery and Paul Dunne take on the Hills and Lakes courses. Mike was talking to NCG’s Mark Townsend.

Mark Townsend

Been watching and playing golf since the early 80s and generally still stuck in this period. Huge fan of all things Robert Rock, less so white belts. Handicap of 8, fragile mind and short game

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