I was at the Alps Tour Q School as I missed out on the top 50 by 230 Euros which is maybe one or two shots over the whole season. The toughest bit of the week is the knowledge that if you don’t play well and make a double or lose a ball then it could jeopardise your chances. I’ve put 10 years into golf and I knew that if I didn’t perform, then it would write me off for next year. For me there is no future in playing one-day events, you have to have the potential of promotion.
If I didn’t get a full card I would have still had an alumni affiliation, as I had won on the tour there before so I would get a few starts, but the luxury of a full card is you can play every event and plan your year. I put everything on that and really mounted the pressure on myself, I do well under pressure and I'm not as good when I’m not engaged. If someone put a gun to my head I would back myself to hit the shot, if there’s nothing on it then it doesn’t fire me up inside.
There were over 250 players at the first two stages and you had to finish in the top 30 after three rounds at the final stage for your full playing rights for 2021, if you finished 31-60 then you would get around half as many starts. So there’s a massive emphasis on the week. My attitude was that there was no way that this wasn’t going to happen. Some weeks you get all technical but this would be all about sheer willpower and focus.
We played two courses and at Golf Nazionale there are seven tee shots where there is out of bounds left and you lose your ball right. At the 5th we had the wind into and off the left and there are trees left. Some players will hit an iron but it suits a bombed draw with the driver and it’s just one of those shots that you have to get right. In one of the rounds one of my playing partners hit one right and then one left. Then with his fifth shot he hit it into the fairway bunker. We all knew that the first two were lost and that was that for him and he started to get quite emotional. So he was basically crying on the side of the tee and I still had to hit my tee shot. Thankfully I hit the fairway but that’s a pretty good example of the raw emotion of it all as he had just played his way off the tour.
It’s so different to a normal event - generally there’s always next week and you can just write off a week but you can’t mess up at Q School. You are on the edge all week, you don’t sleep, you worry about when you’re going to eat, you worry about how your warm-up’s going, you worry about having to hit a provisional and there’s such a noticeable difference on the range - on a normal week it’s all hustle and bustle and it’s like a bar after work. At Q School there’s no laughing and joking and everyone’s there that much longer. It rained so heavily the day before and I was the only one on the putting green, I’d never do this in a normal week but I genuinely wanted to see how much the break was affected by the heavy rain as the greens were so slopey.
I knew level par would be very close for top 30 and in the end only 11 players would break par. It’s so hard not to look at scores but I can honestly say that I didn’t check them until I tapped in on 18 and I was one over. The only advice I would give anyone at any Q School is to try and stay in the moment, you see players miss one-foot putts in the second round and they inevitably miss out by one, another of my mates missed out by two after taking a nine at the final and 54th hole of the week.
I have had three very proud moments in my career. One would be winning on the Alps Tour in Guadeloupe over 72 holes in a strong field, another would be graduating to the Challenge Tour by finishing in the top five of the money list and this would be the third. I really felt the pressure but it was all from myself, I was terrified of not doing it but there was no way that I wasn’t going to succeed.