How many of those who came through Final Stage of this week’s PGA EuroPro Tour Qualifying School will go on to do a Matt Wallace? Not many, but all of them will be hoping to emulate the four-time European Tour winner.
Sam Broadhurst took top honours at PGA EuroPro Final Stage. Son of 1991 Ryder Cup player and six-time European Tour winner Paul Broadhurst, Sam shot rounds of 67, 67 and 64 for a 20-under 198 total and a five-shot victory. He earned the first-place cheque of £2,400. If young Sam achieves just half of dad’s record, then he should have a good career.
Eighty-seven players earned tickets to play on next season’s mini-tour. The number who graduate through to the European Tour remains to be seen.
Wallace proves mini-tour success can lead to European Tour riches. The Englishman currently holds the 36-hole lead in the Scottish Championship at St Andrews. No one would be surprised if he notches up his fifth European Tour win in just three seasons. It wouldn’t be a shock if he made his Ryder Cup debut next year either. There were some who thought he should have been one of Thomas Bjorn’s wild cards picks for the match in France two years ago. (For the record, I wasn’t one of them.)
The 30-year-old had a chance to display his credentials for the biennial match to the man that matters. Wallace played the opening two rounds in St Andrews with European captain Padraig Harrington.
“You always like to, always hope to (impress the Ryder Cup Captain) but it’s not always the case,” Wallace said. “It’s good that I’ve done that in front of him but I’m not sure it’ll make much difference to Padraig. He will want players to be in there on merit and then if it comes down to a pick then he’ll want someone that’s in form.
“I’m going to try and do it where I don’t need a pick this time, so this is a nice start.”
Wallace isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He’s shown an explosive temper at times. His treatment of veteran caddie Dave McNeilly during the 2018 BMW International didn’t sit well with many in the game.
However, you have to admire Wallace for his self-belief. Although he won the Czech Amateur and Argentine Amateur in 2011 before turning professional, he wasn’t in the upper echelons of the English Amateur game. Put it this way, not many would have predicted he’d win four European Tour events at this stage in his career.
The Londoner has forged a successful career partly through going through the mini-tour school of hard knocks. If winning breeds winning, then Wallace matriculated with high marks on that front before he joined the European Tour. He won five straight tournaments on the 2016 Alps Tour, and six in total, to set records on that circuit. He then made a meteoric rise when he gained his European Tour card by winning the 2017 Open de Portugal. Three wins the following season explains why there was a clamour for him to be part of the European Ryder Cup team.
Wallace isn’t shy about his beliefs. He opened a lot of eyes last year before the British Masters at Hillside when he talked about “winning some majors” and becoming the world’s best player.
“I want to be a top-10 player in the world,” Wallace said. “That’s always been my goal, because once you get there, you’ve got a chance of being number one. So my plan is to try to get there, somehow, some way. I’m going to give it my all these next few years.”
I sat in that press conference at Hillside and couldn’t help but compare him to another ambitious Englishman. I wrote this paragraph for my Golfweek story:
“There are shades of Ian Poulter in the four-time winner. There are parallels too. Both players have come from humble beginnings. Both have worked hard to become winners, and both have 100% belief in themselves.”
How many of those PGA EuroPro grads have the same sort of belief? It’s going to be interesting to see where Sam Broadhurst and the rest go from here.
#JustSaying: “You don’t know what pressure is until you play for $5 with only $2 in your pocket.”
Photograph by Getty Images courtesy of the European Tour