By Brian Jones
This week I travelled to Spain to watch the final stage of the DP World Tour Qualifying School at the Infinitum Golf Complex, in Tarragona. Playing in this brutal event was Tenby’s own, Luke Harries who had paid the hefty £2,500 to enter the qualifying process, a 3 month journey beginning at Qualifying Stage 1 in Arlandstad Golf Course, in Sweden The aim, to gain a card for either the DP Tour or Challenge Tour for season 2024. Luke finished 15 out of 101 competitors in the event and went through to Stage 2.
Stage 2 took him to Isla Canela Links in Spain where, with his brother Jack, on the bag, scored 10 under par for 4 rounds. Luke finished 1 shot out of automatic qualification for progression to the final stage in Tarragona. Back in his Spanish apartment, with parents Sue, Spencer and Jack, preparing to come back to Wales, Luke got a phone call from the DP World Tour, saying he was in a 3 man play off for 1 spot to make the reserve list for final qualifying. Luke rushed back to the course and without any warm up he showed that Pembroke grit, winning the playoff with birdie, par, birdie, gaining his place on the reserve list. It was then an anxious wait to see if there were withdrawals, the wait was worth it even though it meant extra expense with additional flights, accommodation etc Luke received the positive phone call from the Tour when he was playing a practice round, two days before the Tournament.
The final stage featured some established Tournament winning DP World Tour Pros, such as Alvaro Quiros Alexander Levy, Thomas Aitken, Marc Warren, Ryder Cup star, David Howell and Gregory Havret who finished runner up in the 2010 US Open, non of whom got their cards. The players who lost their DP World Tour cards last season entered at this stage with a distinct advantage of coming in fresh, both physically and mentally. Luke had been playing competitively nearly everyday for 3 weeks ! The first round was ‘a bad day at the office’ but with 2 rounds of 4 under Luke showed his class, as was remarked on by an experienced Tour caddy. This put him on the cut line for the crucial 4th round. A birdie on the first hole was an excellent start, and his 3rd shot out of the fairway bunker on hole 2 to 20 feet was the shot of the day. A steady stream of good shots for the next few holes gave Luke several birdie chances, which missed by inches. Then, unfortunately all the momentum was lost with a double bogey from nowhere on the 7th a par 5. Luke fought back on 11 where he put his tee shot into a green side bunker and from there he played an immaculate downhill shot to 3 feet for birdie.
Unfortunately Luke was now playing catch up and like his playing partners, DP World Tour Sicilian Open winner Joakim Lagergren and South African Bryce Easton, the birdie putts wouldn’t drop, all 3 players just missing out on the last 2 rounds. By making the Final Qualifying stage Luke will get some Challenge Tour starts, and I’m sure we all wish ‘one of our own’ every success in the future. The chance of success would be greatly enhanced with extra sponsorship, so any individuals or companies out there who could help don’t be shy in coming forward.