Richard Passes Stern Test Of Will
No praise is high enough for what Richard Sterne achieved in Madrid at the weekend. He turned up knowing he needed to make top 12 to keep his card in the final event of the season and ended up securing his first European Tour victory.
The young man from South Africa was under immense pressure, but he came through the challenge as if he was used to being in that situation every week rather than experiencing it for the first time.
There is something about Sterny that makes him play when he needs to… and boy did he need to as he faced the prospect of a trip to Tour School unless he excelled in the Spanish capital.
The 23-year-old was in a similar position last season when fifth place at the alfred dunhill links championship ensured he had playing privileges for 2004, but his latest effort took brinkmanship to the furthest boundary.
The challenge for him now will be to start the season as well as he ends it because he is a talented young man, who whacks the ball enormous distances for somebody standing eyeball to eyeball with Ian Woosnam.
Without doubt Sterny has the potential to become a very good player. How far he goes is up to him.
David Park meanwhile has been far more consistent throughout the season and fully deserves his place in the elite Volvo Masters field this week after another top 10. This is a good opportunity for the Welshman to take his game to a higher level.
Australian Wade Ormsby, like Sterny, was also under pressure in Madrid and how well he too rose to the occasion. Needing to finish inside the top 10 to retain his playing rights, he was 8th and will now enjoy at least another year on Tour.
Unfortunately the news was not as good for Simon Wakefield. The Englishman needed to make the cut in Madrid, but missed by one shot, leaving him 2,500 Euro short of keeping his card. He will no doubt still be regretting that hooked 72nd hole tee shot out of bounds at Woburn in The Heritage when a par would have been enough to take him through 2005. However, he is too good a player to miss out totally and I expect him to come through the grind of Tour School with a card for next year.
Graeme McDowell again got into the frame in Madrid, but couldn’t get the ball to drop often enough at the weekend to register a second win, but he now seems to score low every week and it is only a matter of time before he is in the world’s top 50 and knocking off three or four tournaments every year.