Golf’s greatest test is finally over.
A total of 33 players have earned their European Tour cards for the 2018 season after six rounds over the Hills and Lakes Courses at Lumine Golf Club.
Here’s what we learned from a gripping week of action:
1. Ian Poulter knows a player when he sees one
Well, that’s one way to introduce yourself. Until now, 21-year-old Englishman Sam Horsfield has played the bulk of his golf in the States, having moved acrsoss the Atlantic from Manchester with his parents when he was just five-years-old.
But that’s all about to change after he stormed through Q-School, posting six rounds in the 60s - including an eight-under-par 63 in the final round - to win by EIGHT strokes on 27-under-par. He had just five bogeys in six rounds, too. Talk about impressive.
And Poults has been quick to offer congratulations to his protégé...
I'm extremely impressed just like I was 7 years ago with this young man @hr59sam. @EuropeanTour School is a daunting week. Many congratulations to now being employed and I hope you enjoy the new job. May you have a long and successful career mate. 👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/o8CCluTyI8— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) November 16, 2017
2. English golf is in ridiculously good health
Of the 33 English players who teed it up at Lumine, no fewer than 20 made the 72-hole cut and TEN have gone onto achieve their cards – six more than any the nearest nation (Sweden).
Returning to the top tier are past champions on the circuit Mark Foster (above) and Ross McGowan, while Charlie Ford will make the step up after eight consecutive years battling it out on the Challenge Tour.
The feel-good story, though, is that of Jonathan Thomson, who battled leukaemia ten years ago. At 6ft 9.5in, he will become the tallest player in the history of the European Tour. The other English card-winners are Laurie Canter, James Heath, Ben Evans, Matthew Nixon, Matthew Baldwin and, of course, Horsfield.
3. Connor Syme is the star Scotland has been crying out for
After an incredible first couple of months as a professional, with a T12 finish on debut at the Portugal Masters and T15 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Syme faced losing all that momentum with no status on any major tour entering. That makes what’s he’s achieved over the past three weeks all the more impressive.
The Drumoig man sailed through the Second Stage of Q-School and finished T8 at Lumine to seal his place among the big boys. And, after all the talk about there being no Scots aged under 30 on the European Tour, 22-year-old Syme joins 21-year-old Bradley Neil as full card-holders next year.
4. Experience counts…
Eighteen of the 33 players who won a card are previous European Tour card-holders. They included two-time BMW PGA champion Anders Hansen (above), former BMW Masters champion Kristoffer Broberg and seven-time European Tour winner Gonzalo Ferndandez-Castaño (who had another tour pro, fellow Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, on his bag at Lumine).
They say that Q-School is the ultimate test of a golfer’s nerve, where livelihoods are, quite literally, on the line. Maybe prior experience of competing at the sharp end of the game and knowing first-hand precisely what’s at stake appears to be a clear benefit.
Perhaps having everything to lose matters more than having everything to gain. Whatever it is, it’s obvious that having been there, done that and having had the T-shirt is an advantage for some.
Which would you rather see televised today?— Chris Paisley (@ChrisPaisley86) November 16, 2017
5. …but not for everyone
There was an abundance of European Tour winners in the field at Lumine and some of them failed to make the grade. Julien Quesne, a two-time winner on the European Tour, missed out by three strokes.
As did Johan Edfors, whose three triumphs included one at the Scottish Open. Gary Stal, who famously took advantage of a Martin Kaymer meltdown to win the 2015 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, also missed out, along with Simon Khan and Alejandro Canizares.
6. Q-School needs to be shown live on TV
Refresh page. Refresh page. Refresh page. That’s what it’s been like at bunkered.co.uk HQ all week as we've been checking the progress at Lumine.
While it's one of the busiest weeks of the year for the European Tour, with the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, how good would it be if some resources could be spared to broadcast Q-School live?
Tour pro Chris Paisley ran this poll on Twitter today and, well, you can see the results for yourself.