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Stephen Gallacher: End of the road for PGA EuroPro Tour is a crying shame given the golfing careers it has benefited

Tyrell Hatton
Tyrell Hatton

This weekend will mark the end of the road for the PGA EuroPro Tour which I feel will be a big loss to golf.

The Matchroom Sport Tour Championship at Lough Erne Resort in Northern Ireland will bring the curtain down on the Tour, after the PGA recently announced its 20-year journey is coming to a close.

A lot of players have benefited from the EuroPro over the years. It has served a massive purpose for a lot of people, for different reasons.

For young kids coming through, it has been a great way for them to cut their teeth, learn how to travel and play well.

There is the carrot dangling at the end that the top five players on the order of merit get into the Challenge Tour.

It’s also beneficial for guys that have come off the Challenge Tour. If they have not done so well, it’s another way for them to get back on.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, along with the likes of Tyrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Jamie Donaldson, are among those who have used it to their benefit.

Louis Oosthuizen.

It’s just a shame it’s going to be off the schedule from now on. There’s going to be a void there.

I know Paul Lawrie does a lot with the Tartan Pro Tour, so I’m sure he will probably be looking to expand and keep doing what he’s doing.

There’s certainly a market for it as you need to keep playing as a professional. It was very competitive.

Hopefully, something else comes out of it and it doesn’t go away for so long.

We see some of the challenges across all sports – such as Wasps going into receivership in rugby union.

There are cuts everywhere, in the economy we are in.

There is obviously a reason for it, and it obviously wasn’t viable for the PGA to keep running it.

It can change people’s lives if they finish in the top five, as they can get through the Challenge Tour and then eventually on Tour – which I know people have benefitted from.

Ryder Cup already coming into focus on both sides of Atlantic

The minute the Ryder Cup qualification process begins is when you can start to get a bit excited for it.

We are always looking from that point onwards, and both captains will already see plenty encouraging signs.

Rory McIlroy goes into this weekend’s CJ Cup with an outside chance of leapfrogging Scottie Scheffler as the world’s top-ranked player, which just shows how good a year he has had.

He is on form, playing great and I’m sure he will have a target to be number one in the world by the end of the year.

Rory McIlroy.

He has done just about everything else this year, so this would put the cherry on top.

He’s great to watch, he’s box office. He’s got that X factor and when he’s on his game, I don’t think there’s anyone better.

Any time he is playing, I’m sure European captain Luke Donald will be watching for next year.

Danny Willett was beaten narrowly a couple of weeks ago out in America, which I’m sure will be massive for Luke.

With Robert MacIntyre and a few of the young boys doing really well, it all bodes well.

We have two big tournaments coming up at the end of the year, with Sun City and the Race to Dubai which can determine quite a lot of things if someone hits a bit of form then.

On the other side of the Atlantic, American captain Zach Johnson will have taken great delight in Keegan Bradley’s first PGA Tour win in four years at the Zozo Championship in Japan.

Keegan Bradley.

Keegan has been playing really well during that time. He had a little bit of time off when he struggled a bit, but he has been playing fantastically over the last couple of years. He is a major champion, and a top player.

I’m sure he will be desperate to play the Ryder Cup as he loves that tournament, so it’s a big boost for Zach to see such an experienced performer at the top of his game.

Another fine triumph for Lawrie

Paul Lawrie’s second victory of the Legends Tour season last weekend came as no surprise to me.

Lawrie defeated Michael Jonzon in a play-off to win the Farmfoods European Senior Masters at La Manga Golf Club.

I played an exhibition match with Paul, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam at Bothwell a month or so ago.

Paul Lawrie.

He was hitting the ball lovely. He has had a great year, I don’t think he has finished outside of the top 10 at all when he has been playing.

Paul has now won a couple of times on the Senior Tour and he’s just a great competitor. He loves the game and he’s some player.

I was very impressed with him recently, so it’s no surprise to me that he’s still winning.

He’s got a great golf game, and he’s still got the desire to want to win.