Irish in chase for ranking points to gain 2016 Tour card
Published 31/07/2015 | 02:30
How many bankers, top civil servants and business executives would earn over €220,000 in a year and yet have their right to a lucrative living taken away?
The answer is: none. In fact, they'd be looking for a performance bonus if they earned that kind of money. Professional golf is different. A European Tour player needs an income of around €250,000 just to ensure he keeps his licence to play at the top level.
Last year Anthony Wall was the man who escaped the guillotine by finishing 110th on the Race To Dubai rankings by virtue of taking home €235,231.
Ireland's Peter Lawrie, Simon Thornton and Kevin Phelan finished outside the magic 110 number last year and are battling to try and make enough money to secure their 2016 cards.
All three, plus Challenge Tour player Ruaidhri McGee, were in action in the re-scheduled Madeira Islands Open first round yesterday.
McGee was the best of them, scoring a three-under-par 69 which featured an eagle two on the par-4 10th hole of the Santo da Serra course.
Phelan, currently 104th on the Race to Dubai rankings, also filed a 69, while Thornton scored a level-par 72 and Peter Lawrie was on one-over 73. The leader Antonio Hortal of Spain set a blistering pace with a nine-under-par 63.
Lawrie was boosted by a tied-16th performance in the Omega European Masters last week, increasing his earnings by €34,954 and giving him a total so far of €140,241 from 19 events.
He needs a big move today in order to make further progress because the elite take the stage over the next fortnight in the Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA Championship.
After this week, the majority of the European Tour players must wait until the Made in Denmark tournament (August 20-23) before they can get back into regular action and resume the chase for ranking points.
Meanwhile, Michael Hoey came safely through his opening fixture in the new Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play at Murcar Links GC in Scotland yesterday.
A field of 64 teed up in this straight knockout format, and Hoey goes into the second round by virtue of a 2&1 win over Germany's Maximilian Kieffer.
Hoey plays Sweden's Kristoffer Broberg, conqueror of 2008 Irish Open winner Richard Finch.
Host Paul Lawrie was one of six Ryder Cup players in the field, five of whom won their matches.
Lawrie, Edoardo Molinari, David Howell, Robert Karlsson and Nicolas Colsaerts are in the last 32, with only Oliver Wilson missing out following his defeat by two holes to America's Peter Uihlein.
Saltire Paul Lawrie Match Play, Live, Sky Sports 4, 2.0
Quicken Loans National, Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.30