Tour winner Nick Dougherty and former Ryder Cup stars Paul Broadhurst and Jarmo Sandelin will be among the first to play the enhanced PGA Catalunya Resort this weekend when it hosts the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage for the fifth year in a row.
The six-round test begins on Saturday at the stunning 36-hole complex just over an hour north of Barcelona with 156 players bidding to finish in the top 25 and ties at the acclaimed Stadium and Tour Courses and secure their tickets to the 2013 European Tour.
The tough, par 72 Stadium Course has undergone a significant upgrade since last year and been stretched to 7,333 yards, par 72 course. Some of its iconic holes, including the lakeside, par-five third green, the expansive par-three 11th and the treelined 18th fairway have been toughened up while the fairways have been replaced with Bermuda.
These changes come as part of a three-year partnership with The European Tour, which sees the Qualifying School Final Stage return to the 36-hole resort until at least 2014.
Julio Delgado, PGA Catalunya Resort Chief Executive, said: “We hope the players attending this year’s Final Stage of qualifying here at PGA Catalunya Resort will enjoy the new additions and changes.
“From switching the grass type on our fairways to resilient, drought-resistant Bermuda grass – the same variety used at Augusta National, home of the Masters – to our distinctive putting green and chipping area and our new 7,333yds Stadium Course, we are constantly looking to improve our golf offering to both amateurs and Tour professionals.”
Last year, PGA Catalunya Resort built a 2,000 square-metre putting green and a practice area with five bunkers each containing different sand types (Augusta, St Andrews, Hawaii volcanic, PGA Catalunya Stadium Course sand bunker and Pebble Beach), which allows players to practice every possible shot condition from around the world in one place.
Julio added: “You don’t get to host Q School Final Stage for as many years as we have without investing in the game. Year-on-year we strive to have the best facilities in Spain, Europe and worldwide, and aim to provide the best practicing conditions for all our players.
“We wish each player the very best of luck.”
Ireland will have six contenders in the field with David Higgins and Simon Thornton joined by Chris Devlin, Gareth Shaw, Niall Kearney and Peter O’Keeffe.
Co-designed by European Tour champions Neil Coles and Angel Gallardo, respectively the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Tour’s Board of Directors, and European Golf Design, PGA Catalunya Resort’s Stadium and Tour Courses have welcomed over 770 professionals and elite amateurs since 2008 in the Final Stage of qualifying.
The Final Stage of qualifying for the 2013 European Tour comes days after PGA Catalunya Resort receives its most recent award ‘Spain’s Best Venue for Golf Tournaments 2012’, presented by Deporte & Business, an internationally renowned organisation specialised in hosting of golf events, recognising the resort’s commendable staging of the national final of the BMW Golf Cup International.
This adds to the list of PGA Catalunya Resort’s numerous accolades, including being the home of Spain’s best course, which has been named in Golf World magazine’s ‘Top 100 Courses in the World’, and Golf Monthly magazine’s ranking of the ‘Top 50 Courses in Continental Europe’ twice.