|Friendly rivalry sees Delamontagne and Wakefield lead at San Roque|
The wonderful camaraderie which embodies the game of golf was emphasised once again at San Roque by the two players tied for the lead after the fourth round of The European Tour Qualifying School Finals, Francois Delamontagne and Simon Wakefield.
Despite vying for the coveted Number One card for next season’s European Tour International Schedule, the Frenchman and his English opponent took time out to enjoy each other’s company as well as indulging in some good natured banter as they finished on six under par 282 after respective fourth rounds of 74 and 73 in the tough, windy conditions.
“We’ve got on all year because we have played together a few times on Tour and he is a great guy,” said Wakefield of Delamontagne. “I pulled his leg this morning when he said he was from Brittany and I told him that if that was the case, he was almost English!
“He gave me a bit of filthy look when I said it but it was all in good fun. We have sort of matched each other shot for shot and I think that we have kind of pulled each other round in a way.
“I was down early on and he pulled me back up and then he was down during the middle of the round and hopefully I helped him come back into it, so we have developed a good relationship over the week. Hopefully we will be able to go to the bar at the end of play on Tuesday and have a beer to celebrate getting our cards.”
Delamontagne concurred with his playing partner’s thoughts on the way the week was progressing. “We had a nice little bit of match play going on today,” he said. “Simon is a good guy and I think that we are good for each other.
“It must be working because we are leading the tournament and I hope that we can finish in the top two places at the end of the week – as long as I am Number One of course!”
Both the leaders, along with the majority of the field, found the windy conditions on the Costa del Sol difficult to cope with, Delamontagne’s only birdie of the day coming at the second hole where he holed from six feet, while Wakefield birdied three times – at the ninth, 11th and 16th – to counteract his four dropped shots.
In fact, so demanding were the conditions that only 11 players in total broke the par of 72 on both the Old and New Courses, before the cut fell at ten over par 298, leaving 85 players remaining to contest the final two rounds for the 35 cards on offer.
As always is the case at the Qualifying School Finals, there were stories of tears and triumph in equal measure around the cut mark.
Some players, such as Sweden’s Fredrik Widmark and Carlos Quevedo of Spain produced heroics to ensure their respective places in the final two rounds, Quevedo birdieing the demanding 428 yard 18th on the Old Course to get in right on the mark, while Widmark eagled the 16th and birdied the 17th to get back to ten over.
But on the other side of the coin there was hard luck stories for players such as Warren Bennett of England and Scotland’s David Patrick. Bennett, whose third round 66 was the best score of the week on the Old Course, dropped six shots in his final six holes for an 81 to miss out by a shot while Patrick bogeyed the eighth and missed a three foot putt for par on the ninth for a 72 to also miss by a shot.
At the other end of the spectrum, the nearest challengers to the two leaders were England’s David Griffiths and Stuart Manley of Wales who finished three shots adrift on three under par 285 after respective fourth rounds of 73 and 72.
Three players shared fifth place on two under par 286, Gregory Bourdy of France (70), Lars Petter Brovold of Norway (77) and Peter Gustafsson of Sweden (73), who missed out on qualifying for The European Tour by the narrowest of margins last month when he finished 16th on the Challenge Tour Rankings.
One shot behind the trio in sole possession of eighth place is Germany’s Sven Strüver who carded a 73 for a one under par total of 287. The three time winner on The European Tour was the last player to finish under par for his four rounds.
Courtesy of www.europeantour.com