Event: AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open
Date: November 30 - December 3
Location: Heritage Golf Club, Mauritius
European Tour pro Laurie Canter has spoken of the difficulties Challenge Tour and Q-School graduates face in establishing themselves on Europe’s top tier.
Speaking to bunkered.co.uk ahead of his first event of the 2018 season – the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open – the Englishman, who has progressed via Q-School in the past three years, believes there isn’t currently a clear pathway for aspiring pros, made more problematic with the inception of the Rolex Series.
“The main core problem is that, and it’s very well documented among players – and everyone has a different view – is there are Rolex Series events now that are worth €7m,” he said.
“To give you an idea, if you take the guy who finished 15th at Q-School last year, he played for about €25m across the whole season. The five Rolex Series events [not ones part of the Final Series] are worth €35m. It’s crazy.”
Canter didn’t play in any of those Rolex Series events, which contributed to him finishing 155th in the Race to Dubai. Only three Q-School graduates kept their cards from last year and, while he understands that he needs to seize the opportunities when they’re presented to him, he feels he isn’t being given a fair crack of the whip.
“It’s an interesting one, it is a dilemma and in my opinion, having got my card for a third straight year, what you want as a player is a clear pathway and at the moment, that pathway – to be brutally honest you need to have a win or come second and, if you come second, you have to back that up with another €200-240,000 for the other events,” he added. “So you need to play brilliantly in those as well.
“It can be done – and they’re giving opportunities to get into Rolex Series events – but there are only about three places. The pathway just isn’t clear and that’s one thing – as a player trying to establish myself on the tour – you just want a fair crack.
“But I’m wary of moaning because everyone is experiencing or has experienced what I’m experiencing. I get that. The problem is the amount of money we’re playing for.
“As a graduate – although we’re playing in great, long-running events – I could win Mauritius this week but a runner-up finish at the Irish Open would earn me four times as much. It’s ridiculous – absolutely ridiculous. It can’t be right.”
Due to the disparity in money between Rolex Series and most regular season European Tour events, Canter believes a points system – like the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour – would better reflect performances throughout the season.
“I think a points system would give a better representation,” he added. “In my opinion, the 110 players that keep their cards should closely mirror the stroke average – it does on the PGA Tour but doesn’t at all on the European Tour.
“One of my mates finished 55th in stroke average and lost his card. That wouldn’t happen on the PGA Tour – but I know it’s something they’re looking at.
“But there’s no point getting frustrated about it. It’s just how it is right now and where the tour has decided to go. You just have to continue to improve and build your game and eventually you’ll get the results. I’ve got the belief that it will happen.”
Field in focus - AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open
Louis Oosthuizen is the star name in the field at Heritage Golf Club after visiting the site of a second championship golf course he is designing with Peter Matkovich on the Heritage Resorts complex.
“It’s up in the mountains and I think the views are going to be spectacular," he said. "I’m very excited to be working with Peter and hopefully I can bring something special to the overall design.”
Fellow major champion Darren Clarke is also in the field for the event, which is a tri-sanctioned between the European Tour, Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour.
Others teeing it up include past Ryder Cup players Nicolas Colsaerts and Jamie Donaldson, as well as aspiring pros Sam Horsfield, Bradley Neil, Connor Syme and Gavin Moynihan.