The Qatar Masters proved to be a bittersweet event of mixed emotions.
I was thrilled to see one pal keep his tour card in Scott Jamieson but felt for another mate in Marc Warren for whom the Tour School now beckons.
Scott was unbelievable and his performance over the weekend in particular was outstanding.
Any player in the world would be delighted at rattling off eight birdies in their last 10 holes which Scott did on Saturday.
He followed it up with another terrific back nine on Sunday to clinch a joint third place finish which guaranteed his place on the DP World Tour next season.
I was elated for Scott but I felt for Marc who must now try to win his tour card next week at final qualifying at Tarragona in Spain.
The final tournament of the regular season is always a strange one. It’s a week where there seems to be different competitions taking place within one tournament.
For some, the pressure was off and they were there to win an event. Others were there to try to qualify for the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship.
Others, like Scott, Marc and Ross Fisher were there to ensure they were playing on the tour next season.
It makes for great television but having been in the situation Scott, Marc and Ross faced, it’s brutal.
Livelihoods at stake in dramatic finale
You do not lose your card thanks to one event. There are around 25 events during the season which have shaped your destiny.
But when it comes down to the final week and everything is riding on those four rounds, it’s a pressure which is hard to put into words.
It’s an emotional rollercoaster but given you are playing for your livelihood it’s hardly surprising.
I liken it to a relegation decider in the football. Look at the Premier League in England where some teams can drop down a division but bounce right back as Leicester City look to be doing.
For every Leicester there is a Middlesbrough or a Sunderland who struggle to get back.
That dread of what lies ahead, starting with six punishing rounds of Q School, is enough to give any player the fear.
The challenge of winning a golf tournament is huge but losing your tour card? That’s another level.
Scottish Golf needs to rethink revamped Scottish Boys’ and Girls’ Championships
I cannot fathom why Scottish Golf has decided to tinker with the format of the Scottish Boys’ and Scottish Girls’ Championships.
The matchplay format of the tournaments have been replaced by a 54-hole joint event with 112 boys and 44 girls due to compete at Scotscraig in July next year.
I have no issue at all with having boys and girls compete together. I’ve done it every year with one of my Foundation events at Peebles.
But we should be looking to bolster the number of players competing in these events, not condensing them further and eliminating playing opportunities.
Something is amiss here and I’ve left wondering whether finance has dictated the decision making process with this one.
I cannot think of any other reason why Scottish Golf felt this was the way to go.
We’ve tinkered too much with it all.
It used to be the case you spent your winter practising for the tournament which was held in April every year but it was moved to the summer a few years ago.
The traditional matchplay format which used to have 256 boys competing in matchplay was also changed.
In its place was a strokeplay qualifying element with the leading players progressing to the matchplay stage.
What we have now is a strokeplay only format, across three days, featuring fewer players.
I’m struggling to see how this is helping grow the game in Scotland and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.
The tournament of a lifetime for record breaker Alison Lee
𝗔𝗟𝗜𝗦𝗢𝗡 𝗟𝗘𝗘 𝗪𝗜𝗡𝗦 𝗜𝗡 𝗦𝗧𝗬𝗟𝗘 🏆
36-hole scoring record -22 (previous -16) ✅
54-hole scoring record -29 (previous -24) ✅
Equals 72-hole record -29 ✅
Equals LET low round 61 (-11) twice ✅
Equals consecutive birdies with 8 ✅
Second player to win bogey-free ✅
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) October 29, 2023
I don’t think I’m being bold in predicting Alison Lee will struggle to play a better three days of tournament golf than she managed at the Amarco Team Series in Saudi Arabia.
The records tumbled as she secured an eight-shot victory in the LET event after shooting 29-under-par in the 54-hole tournament.
Yes, feel free to read that last sentence again – 29-under-par after 54 holes – without a bogey to be found.
What else can I add other than to say it’s a crazy and utterly ridiculous performance from the American.
To be 22 under after two rounds of 61 is unbelievable but I wonder if she felt disappointed only to shoot 65 on Sunday?
Seriously, you can do nothing other than congratulate Lee – it’s a phenomenal performance and one which will live long in the memory for her I’m sure.
These low scoring rounds are becoming quite common though in the 54 hole events.
I’ve watched a few LIV Golf and senior tournaments and I’m seeing players attacking the course much more.
In a 72-hole tournament maybe there’s a feeling of having time to settle down and play but in the 54-hole game it is clear the approach is different.
It’s almost as if players are going out and teeing off as if they are running out of holes already.
It will be interesting to see if the trend continues.