|Gustafsson Leads 39 Qualifiers onto The 2005 European Tour|
Sweden’s Peter Gustafsson won The European Tour Qualifying School Finals on a day of unbelievable tension at San Roque Club, where a total of 39 players secured their places on The 2005 European Tour International Schedule.
Gustafsson’s nine under par, 108 hole total of 423, which included an excellent final round of four under par 68, saw him win by three shots from England’s Simon Wakefield, with Francois Delamontagne a stroke further back.
While those three players in the final group of the day did battle for Number One spot, the unique drama that makes the Qualifying School Finals such a special event was unfolding all over the course, as former Ryder Cup Winners and past European Tour champions joined the next generation of golfing talent in an intense race to The 2005 European Tour.
At the end of it all, 39 players finished on seven over par 439 or better to win their 2005 playing privileges, with seven players suffering the heartache of missing out by a single shot.
Neil Cheetham could well have been one of those players, but the Englishman produced two of the shots of his life to turn agony to joy in the space of 15 minutes. Standing on the par five ninth tee (his 18th hole of the day), Cheetham was nine over par and well aware that he needed an eagle to secure his Card.
A poor drive did not help Cheetham’s cause, but he produced a marvellous five wood to find the green and then drained a 25 foot putt to make it on the mark.
Also among the 39 players celebrating was Ireland’s Philip Walton – the man who holed the winning putt for the European Team in the 1995 Ryder Cup Matches and also a three time winner on The European Tour. Walton took the 17th Card with his four over par aggregate and summed up the feelings of almost every player at the Finals.
“I just can’t believe it out there,” said Walton. “I was bleeding and I didn’t think it was going to stop but I had a great caddie, he was unreal. This whole week is unreal but I’ve done it.
“This is worse than the Ryder Cup, the stress out there is unreal. I have a lot of people to thank back home – I am not going to get into it now but a lot of people who had faith in me and who still have.”
Walton joins five former European Tour winners in making it back to the top level, Sweden’s Michael Jonzon and Adam Mednick, Australia’s Jarrod Moseley, Dean Robertson of Scotland and Sven Strüver of Germany.
Moseley was probably the most deserving player at San Roque Club to win a Card, having missed out on retaining his place on Tour by just €13 on the final 2004 Volvo Order of Merit. He took the 25th Card on offer with a six over par total and admitted afterwards that he was just glad it was all over after suffering the agony of missing out after the Madrid Open a fortnight ago.
“I needed to come here and get my card back,” said Moseley, who won the 1999 Heinekan classic. “It was something I really needed to do. After Madrid, I really didn’t feel like playing golf at all and I was actually thinking of not coming but then I thought otherwise, and that that was not the right thing to do.”
If Moseley deserved his Card the most, Gustafsson wasn’t far behind. The 28 year old Swede suffered the heartache of finishing 16th on the Challenge Tour Rankings three weeks ago and missing out on a place on Tour by one place.
It was to his eternal credit that he managed to pick himself and score victory at the Qualifying School Finals, especially when you consider that he began the week with a knee injury.
“I finished sixth at the Bouygues Telecom Grand Final and I felt that wasn’t going to be good enough for the top 15 on the Challenge Tour so I told the guys that I was driving down to get my flight from Bilbao down to Malaga and I got a phone call from one of the Tour TV guys who told me that if Mattias Eliasson won the play-off then I would be 15th on the Rankings which would have won me the Card.
“I then got a call from one of my friends who is a TV commentator in Sweden and he said that Eliasson had won and that I was in. Then half an hour later I get another call asking me if it was true that I finished 16th, and that was just like being stabbed in the back to be honest.
“So it was good to be able to pick myself up and come and win here. I said that I was going to do that, but I really didn’t believe it until I holed my bunker shot at the last today!”
Courtesy of www.europeantour.com