National team member Oliver Roberts is preparing to taste life on the professional golf circuit after qualifying for the Europe-based Alps Tour.
Roberts shone at the recent Qualifying School in Spain to grab his tour card for 2016, which he can accept whilst retaining his amateur status.
And the 23-year-old is relishing the thought of regular tournament golf on the Alps Tour, which opens with a three-event swing in Egypt. The season’s first event will be the Ein Bay Open at Sokhna Golf Club on the north shore of the Red Sea from 9-11 February.
“The Alps Tour is full of hungry young players taking their first steps on the professional golf ladder, so the competition is intense,” said Roberts.
“This is exactly what I need at this stage of my golfing development. Not only does the Alps Tour offer week-in, week-out tournament play, it teaches you about life on the circuit, managing your schedule and learning to fend for yourself. It promises to be a steep learning curve and a great experience.”
The Alps Tour was established in 2001 by four countries – France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland – to give young professionals more playing opportunities. It is one of four regional tours in Europe operating beneath the European Tour and Challenge Tour.
Alps Tour events carrying Official World Golf Ranking points while the top five finishers on the Order of Merit qualify for the following year’s Challenge Tour.
Roberts was near the top of his game during an intense week at Q-School, held at La Cala Resort, Costa del Sol, Spain. In an impressive opening salvo, he was joint winner of his Stage One qualifying tournament, finishing on level par over two rounds.
He then opened the three-round Final Stage with an outstanding five-under 67 to stand joint second after the first day. His eventual finishing position, joint 37th in the 144-strong field, was good enough to secure full playing rights for 2016.
Roberts’ breakthrough effort came after a busy 2015 in which he became the first Hong Kong amateur to make the cut in a PGA China Tour event – the Buick Open at Mission Hills Haikou.
He then headed to northwest England where he shared the first-round lead in the Lytham Trophy, one of Europe’s most prestigious amateur tournaments. He eventually finished a creditable 49th in the 144-player event, which was held over four rounds on the hallowed links of Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club.
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