Crisis? What crisis? No fewer than 41 Irish players have stumped up the €1,600 entry fee to follow their dream and enter the First Qualifying Stage of the European Tour School.
That’s seven fewer than entered the first stage last year but still a significant number considering the odds against eventual success.
Of the 48 that entered from the start last year, only Damian Mooney made it through to the finals at PGA Catalunya, where he was joined by stage two qualifier Niall Kearney and the exempt Simon Thornton and Colm Moriarty. None of the quartet earned cards.
Kearney, Moriarty and Thornton are exempt from the first stage again but there are plenty of others ready to take their first steps on the long road to a European Tour card when the journey begins in Scotland and Austria today.
Ten Irishmen, including former tour regular Gary Murphy and former Walker Cup players Noel Fox and Jonny Caldwell, will tee it up at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire hoping that this will be their year.
Around 1,000 golfers enter the Qualifying School each year with their sights set on finishing in the top 30 and ties who earn cards following the Final Stage at PGA Golf De Catalunya near Girona the week before Christmas.
A player progressing through all three stages will have to play 252 holes under the most intense pressure and many of the Irish entrants know how it feels to go the distance.
Several amateurs have also entered, led by Walker Cup hero Paul Cutler, who will tee it up at Frilford Heath from October 4-7.
Irish entries for First Qualifying Stage 2011
Sep 13-16, Section A - Ebreichsdorf, Austria
No Irish entrants
Sep 13-16, Section A - Dundonald Links, Ayrshire, Scotland (10 Irish)
Sep 20-23, Section B - Wychwood Park, Crewe, England (6)
Andrew Hogan (am)
Matt McAlpine (Am)
Ross Oliver (Carrickfergus)
David Rawluk (The Island)
Sep 20-23, Section B - Fleesensee G&CC, Fleesensee, Germany (3)
Sep 27-30, Section C - Golf d’Hardelot, Hardelot, France (5)
Sep 27-30, Section C - Circolo Golf Bogogno, Bogogno, Italy (4)
Robbie Cannon (Am) Balbriggan
Ruaidhri McGee (Rosapenna)
Oct 4-7, Section D - Ribagolfe, Lisbon, Portugal (6)
Chris Devlin (Hombre GC)
John Kelly (St Margarets)
Thomas O’Flynn (Fota Island)
Oct 4-7, Section D - Frilford Heath, Abingdon, England (7)
Nick Brennan (Bowood)
Paul Cutler (Am) Portstewart
Second Qualifying Stage Schedule
Costa Ballena Ocean Club, Jerez, Spain
Las Colinas G & CC ,Alicante, Spain
El Valle Golf Resort, Murcia, Spain
South Course, La Manga Club, Cartagena, Spain
Final Qualifying Stage Schedule
PGA Catalunya Resort, Girona, Spain
While the first round was completed successfully in Austria, where Denmark’s Daniel Slot Mogensen leads after an eight under par 64, no play was possible at Dundonald Links due to gale force winds.
The European Tour reported:
Despite their best intentions, the efforts of tournament officials and greens staff were rendered pointless as the remnants of Hurricane Katia battered the United Kingdom. It is hoped that round one can get underway on Wednesday morning at Dundonald.