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Canadians at Q-School; McLean on EuroTour

It is hard to gauge whether it has been a successful Q-School season for Canadians. Some highly anticipated breakthroughs — Andrew Parr, Graham Delaet and Richard Scott, for example — never came. Others, like Nationwide Tour’s Chris Baryla, flamed out in the final round, leaving the Vernon, BC-born Baryla to try Monday qualifying or heading back to playing on the Canadian Tour.

Only four Canadians — Bryan DeCorso, Brad Fritsch, Ian Leggatt and Lee Curry— have made it through to the finals, essentially guaranteeing them a spot on the Nationwide Tour at the least. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of game Leggatt, a former PGA Tour winner from Cambridge, brings to the finals. He’s been lost in a world of injuries and swing changes over the past year, bouncing between sets of clubs and instructors as he attempts to forge a way forward. I would have actually expected that he was nearing the end, but maybe there’s new life — and at least another year on tour for the 42-year-old.

Of course Jon Mills is already guaranteed a spot on tour through his play on the Nationwide Tour during the regular year, and David Morland, as well as David Hearn will get another year in golf’s version of triple-A baseball. On the big tour, Mike Weir and Stephen Ames will hope to extend their late season breakthroughs.

Another Canadian (sort of) to make a break through is Alan McLean. The long hitter who is married to a Canadian and living in London, Ont., is claimed by three different countries. In the process of finalizing his Canadian citizenship, depending on what you read (and where the medium is located), McLean is either Canadian, South African or Scottish.

Either way, he caused a stir at European Tour school last week when he blasted tour officials for forcing him to go to Q-School at all. McLean, who had no playing privileges on the European Tour, but almost managed to get his card through a handful of events, including a third-place finish in Moscow. While sitting on the bubble at the end of the year, McLean simply couldn’t get into events, which lead him to lash out at European Tour officials:

“I was 111th on the order of merit with about three weeks of the season to go, but I didn’t get any invites when I was told I would,” explained McLean. “It drives you nuts sitting there watching yourself slide down the order of merit each week when there’s nothing you can do.

“I was told people who were fighting for their card would get an invite to the Portuguese Masters but it didn’t come. It makes you wonder about the Tour. You work so hard to earn a card and then get nothing. I think some of the invites are abused and you get guys who add nothing to an event. It left a sour taste in my mouth and I wasn’t going to play here this week, but we all have our ambitions in the game and I have to get back on the tour this way.”

In the end, all it cost McLean was a week’s worth of playing. After bombing at PGA Tour school, where he said his driver wasn’t working (normally his strength), he came back to London and then flew to Spain. He was solid all week at European Tour school, finishing 6th and getting a second attempt at the European Tour, which he played in 2004.

Incidentally, McLean spent the last part of the year working with Bond Head’s Bruce McCarrol.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I think anyone who knows Alan and figjam clearly doesn’t would realize that for Alan to complain there are some serious issues with the invitation process. How does Langer’s son get an invite then proceed to shoot a couple of 90s? I mean if you are shooting in the 90s it is not just a fluke, you clearly cannot play at the level. Alan deserved a spot into at least one of the spots.

  • I think Chris is referring to the Dutch Open, where Langer’s kid was given an invite and shot 98, 91. Shouldn’t have been there and that’s what Alan is referring to. For Langer’s kid it is a dalliance — for Alan it is a way to feed his family.

  • Just a note:

    Some of you have obviously never played competitive golf in Europe.

    The system is very different that those of either the US or Canada.

    The regional and national golf associations reign supreme.

    If you have chance, take a look at the way categories (the way in which one is allowed to enter an event on either the European or Challenge Tour) and you’ll see why someone might be frustrated.

    For most Challenge Tour events, “invited players” have higher status or ranking in an events starting list that even those players that have status from either previous years play or q school or a monday qualifier.

    The ways to the invites are handed out are varied, but mostly have to do with allotment #s based on a countries % of available players or size of the nation in general.

    This a good system if you have played most of your amateur or pro golf from within one of the counties in the EU, but if you dont have a lot of standing within an association, youre very unlikely to get invites no matter what your position on the money list.

    its quite a different system and one that leads to fields being filled based on numbers, not on playing results.

    So sometimes lots of gravy, to quote a poster.

    Langer’s sons was going through a lot of swing changes this year. He’s a better player than his recent scores suggest. Still a long way to go, but a very competitive player.

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