Hurley determined to learn from mistakes
Gary Hurley learned a tough lesson at the European Tour's Qualifying School last year.
And the Waterford man is aiming to put it to good use when the final round begins today in Catalunya.
The 23-year-old admits he was "quite upset" after failing to earn his card last year, knowing he would literally count the cost in having to opt for the Challenge Tour - in one of his recent outings, he picked up €825 for a 49th-place finish at the Cordon Golf Open in France.
Old friends have helped to plug the gap, with his club West Waterford and college NUI Maynooth acting as sponsors.
"The Challenge Tour is tough. The money isn't great unless you're doing quite well, then it's fine but if you're not it's quite difficult," he says.
"Main tour events are just so much better run. A lot more professional. Everything is done for you."
Qualification would mean more prize money, more sponsors and more time with house-mate Paul Dunne, who earned his card last year following his Open heroics.
Clashing schedules means that the pair, who also share the house in Straffan, Co Kildare with Jack Hume, rarely spend time together.
"That'd be the goal this week. Get on the European Tour so we could hang out more around the house and share the schedule," Hurley (below) says.
All three were part of the victorious Walker Cup team of 2015 and continue to share the "journey" of making it in the golfing world.
"We came from the same level as amateurs. Obviously Paul did so well in The Open, he seemed very ready for it at the time," he says. "We're all pretty similar standard to be honest so it's just playing well at the right time and getting breaks is all it takes."
His performance at last weekend's second round qualifying stage offered him a chink of light.
He led the Irish challenge finishing in a tie for seventh after posting six-under par at Las Colinas, though there is always something to worry about as he takes to the Spanish course today.
"If my putting was good, I probably would have won (last weekend) to be honest. It's unusual for me.
"Putting is usually the best part of my game," he says.
Hurley will be joined Ruaidhri McGee and Kevin Phelan, who turned 26 this week and hopes there'll be something else to celebrate in this final qualification stage.