Chris Devlin has given up on Europe to pursue his American dream.
The 33-year old Ballymena native will join 34 players with a combined 57 PGA Tour victories - including one major champion - in the second stage of the PGA Tour National Qualifying Tournament after a clash of dates with PQ2 in Europe forced him to choose.
Devlin will tee it up just 15 minutes from home at the Hombre Golf Club in Panama City, Florida, in a field that includes 2003 US PGA champion Shaun Micheel and former PGA Tour winner Peter Lonard.
The second stage is being played at six sites across the US with Muskerry’s Niall Turner continuing his quest at a “long and tough” TPC Craig Ranch in Texas.
But Devlin could just as easily be joining John Kelly and Walker Cup amateur Niall Kearney at Costa Ballena in Cadiz on Friday for the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.
Talk about no-brainer.
“I was very disappointed that both Q-Schools clashed this year but having moved to Florida this year and with the Hombre course being my first choice, I’ve decided to stay here,” Devlin explained.
“I’ve had the biggest problem with that but my decision was made easier by finishing high up in Stage One. I knew if I finished top 5 at Stage One in the US, I would get to go to my first preference qualifying site for Stage Two.
“That was my home course here in Panama City in Florida so my mind was made up for me.”
Devlin finished second in his Stage One venue at St. Johns Golf & Country Club near St Augustine last month and believes he is playing well enough to finish in the top 20 over the Bad and the Ugly courses at Hombre Golf Club near Panama City in the Florida panhandle.
Devlin scraped through Europe’s PQ1 on the mark thanks a final round 68 but dreams of making it in the US.
“I would love to be able to do both but the two tours have made it impossible this year for whatever reason,” he said. “I entered both just in case I played badly in one of them or I got injured but the decision was made for me.
“I have every confidence of getting through here this week. I wanted to go to Spain but being at home I get the chance for a few extra practice rounds and that means a lot.
“I’m playing really well and feel god about getting through to final stage. If I can do that I will have PGA Tour membership and status on the Nationwide Tour.
“What happened in the US Open at Torrey Pines in 08 was disappointing but this year I have been playing much better and done a lot of work with my coach Hank Johnson.
“In this last part of the year my results have been much improved and I am back to full fitness. I feel as good now about my game as I ever have and just look forward to getting on a bigger stage where I feel I belong. It is a matter of keeping my head on straight and I will do just fine.”