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Saturday, 26 January 2019
  (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Staysure Tour Qualifying School marks the beginning of the over-50s season in Europe as five men will earn playing privileges for the coming season. Here are five things you need to know…

Picturesque Portugal

Those making it through to Final Stage will tee it up on the Pinta Course at Pestana Golf Resort in Carvoeiro, Portugal, over four rounds in an attempt to secure playing privileges for the 2019 season. Vale de Pinta, a par 71 course, is the long-running host of Final Stage Qualifying School and is known for its enjoyable yet challenging layout, as well as its beauty on the picturesque Algarve.

Up for grabs

There are five 2019 Staysure Tour cards on offer at Q-School. First Stage was contested over 36 holes — at two separate courses — last week and those who made it through join the already-exempt players at this week’s Final Stage. Hopefuls will compete over three rounds before a cut is made in advance of the final 18 holes. Only those within eight shots of fifth place will make the cut and therefore contest the final round. Should there be a tie for fifth place after the fourth round, a hole-by-hole play-off will occur until one player remains.  

From qualifier to champion

Qualifying School offers players the chance to join the over-50s game’s elite, and two of last year’s graduates grasped that opportunity with both hands. Englishmen David Shacklady and Paul Streeter both earned their Staysure Tour cards in Portugal last year and went on to achieve success later in the season. Shacklady was the first to do so, winning the VTB Russian Open Golf Championship (Senior) in August, before countryman and friend Streeter followed in his footsteps two weeks later at the Travis Perkins Masters. The win at Woburn gave Streeter the taste for victory and it was not long before he returned to the winner’s circle. The 52 year old earned his second win of the season at the Costa Blanca Benidorm Senior Golf Masters, defeating Miguel Ángel Jiménez in a play-off to join Clark Dennis and Gary Orr as the only two-time winners of 2018.

History maker

American Clark Dennis made history in 2017 by becoming the first man to win the John Jacobs Trophy in the same season he earned a card from Qualifying School. He failed to earn playing privileges in 2016 but returned to Q-School the next year and earned one of the five cards by finishing fourth at Vale de Pinta. A stand-out season followed as Dennis triumphed twice – at the Senior Italian Open presented by Villaverde Resort and the Dutch Masters – in addition to three runner-up finishes and a one other top ten as he topped the Order of Merit and became the first American to have his name etched onto the John Jacobs Trophy.

All to play for

Four rounds separate five men from full Staysure Tour playing status for 2019 and often the most consistent find themselves in possession of a card at the end of the week, but this is not always the case. Last year’s Q-School winner Rafael Gomez had to overcome adversity to taste success after 72 holes. The Argentinian’s hopes were in tatters after an opening round of 80, nine over par, but he made an incredible recovery as he went 16 under par through the final three rounds to finish four shots ahead of John Kemp, who finished second in Portugal.

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