THE battle to earn a European Tour card continues in Spain on Wednesday with over 300 hopefuls competing in the second stage of Qualifying School at four separate venues.
Amongst those chasing the dream at Campo de Golf El Saler, in Valencia will be Gareth Shaw, fresh from winning the Alps Tour Order of Merit on Sunday.
The 27-year-old capped a hugely consistent season by carding a final round 66 to finish second in his last event of the year in France.
“I’ve been in contention a number of times this year,” said Gareth.
“I lost by a couple of shots on two occasions and lost a play-off at the start of the year to Brendan McCarroll but I learned quite a lot from being in the hunt.
“I was also in quite a nice position on Sunday because I had pretty much guaranteed myself at the very least a top five spot in the OoM so I could go out and give it a go in the final round.
“Unfortunately I came up a shot shy, but six under in the final round was very good and it gives me a lot of confidence going into this week.”
While the financial rewards were modest, certainly compared to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Gareth’s prize for topping the OoM is entry onto the Challenge Tour next season, a step up the ladder, bigger tournaments and larger prize money.
“I took a good look at myself at the end of last year and realised I really had to start doing things right,” added Gareth who won the North of Ireland Championship twice as an amateur.
“I’m working with coach Johnny Foster, a nutritionist, a physio and Fergus Wallace on my performance analysis. More importantly, I finally realised what works for me. I have matured quite a lot. It is not all about the golf swing. Putting, short game and attitude are the vital elements.
“It’s nice to know that I already have something in place for next season but I would really like to get through this week and put myself under a bit of pressure because I do feel that I have played well enough to possibly make that jump onto the main tour and learn the hard way.”
Gareth has been joined in Spain by a host of other hopefuls aiming to progress to the Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort from November 24-29 including Ballymena-born Chris Devlin, Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell, and Newcastle based Simon Thornton.