If Desvonde Botes plays on the PGA European Tour next season the same way he did for six days at the European Tour Qualifying School Nov. 17-22, then he won’t just hang onto his card. He may just win a tournament as well.
The South African dominated this year’s Qualifying School over the San Roque and Sotogrande courses. His six-round total of 417 set a new European Tour Qualifying School record, breaking Steve Webster’s 422 total set in 1995.
Botes had rounds of 68-67-72-67-70-73 to dominate the proceedings. Even a double-bogey 6 on his 108th hole couldn’t stop him from running away from the field and pocketing the £10,000 ($14,414) first-place check.
“My aim was to get the No. 1 card and I got off to a good start,” Botes said. “I just try to be patient. That’s the main thing. I am normally very patient. I made only two double bogeys all week, and I only had two three-putts.”
A fourth-round 67 allowed Botes to take the lead from Belgian sensation Nicolas Colsaerts, who turned pro on his 18th birthday, three days before Q-School. He was the story of the first few days, especially after opening with 70-67-68 to take a two-shot lead. He finished tied for fourth after 72-73-74 the last three days. His confidence was evident after the six-round ordeal.
“I just want to keep playing like that,” he said. “If I can play like that all year I don’t think it will be a problem keeping my card.”
Scotland’s Graham Rankin is another who won’t have to worry about losing his card next year if he replicates his Q-School form.
The 1999 Walker Cup player played the last two days in 12 under to finish second. The 34-year-old former brick layer’s laborer finished with 65 at San Roque to win £8,500. His cause was helped by six birdies and a hole-in-one at the 211-yard sixth hole with a 6-iron.
Rankin went to Q-School after finishing 16th on the European Challenge Tour, missing the 15th and final spot by only £208.
“I know when I play well I am capable of shooting low scores,” said Rankin. “I work as hard as anybody on the range and it’s paying off. I know I’m good enough. I need some breaks to go forward. I’ve had enough kicks in the teeth in the past.”
Rankin was one of three members of the victorious 1999 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team to get their cards. Graeme Storm, who also won the 1999 British Amateur Championship, and Simon Dyson also won their cards, finishing 12th and 33rd respectively.
Dyson got one of the last three cards after he holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 108th hole.
Exactly 35 players of 168 got cards. Among those successful were veteran European Tour professionals Malcolm Mackenzie, Mark Mouland and Steven Richardson.
Australian Brett Rumford also earned his card. He finished six rounds at 6-under 426.
One stroke behind Rumford was 1998 British Open hero Justin Rose.
Among those to miss were former European Tour winners Andrew Sherbourne, Stuart Cage and Philip Walton. Walton, who gained the winning point for Europe in the 1995 Ryder Cup shot a closing 77 to miss by six shots.
None of the five American professionals who entered received cards this year.