The dream of a European Tour future continues to attract Ireland’s army of mini tour players to the Europro Tour. What remains a mystery is how they continue to battle financial hardship and a seemingly endless series of reverses for so little reward.
The agony continued in the Europro Tour’s season opening Motocaddy at Wensum Valley Hotel, Golf and Country Club in Norfolk on Wednesday where just five of the 10-strong irish contingent made the cut. Of those five, most will lose money this week. And every other week too. Leaderboard
Forget about former Premiership midfielder Jimmy Bullard who can probably afford to indulge himself. He missed the cut by 12 shots after rounds 79 and 86 but he’s not the real story.
What about Walker Cup players Niall Kearney (79-75), who missed by one, or Paul Cutler (80-80) who was seven strokes outside the mark.
While players have won events and gained valuable player experience for a crack at the Q-School, the fact is that Noel Fox is the last Irish player to top the Europro Tour money list way back in 2008. A lot of money has been spent since then by dozens of Irish hopefuls who are hanging on to their dreams by their bloodied fingernails.
You can only admire the determination of Derry’s Michael McGeady (75-75) or The Island’s David Rawluk (73-77) who are the best of the bunch in Norwich, eight shots behind leader Billy Fowles in joint 21st on four over par.
Kudos too for Tim Rice, Mark Staunton and Cian Curley, who also dug deep to make the cut. Having paid their £275 entry fee, they still have a chance to break even or make a small profit this week where the jackpot is a top prize of £10,000.
Rice, who turned professional in 2003, deserves special mention for his perseverence. But one has to wonder if how long these players can continue to put themselves through such agony.
Rice played one full season on the Challenge Tour in 2005 but made just three cuts from 23. Since then he’s combined the Europro Tour grind with fruitless trips to the Q-School. His tournament earnings are negligible compared to his expenses.
As Ireland’s big four bask in the glory of seven majors wins in six years, the Europro boys toil deep in the mines. With only the merest flicker light to give them hope, they survive on that inner fire. How long they can go on, nobody knows.