It’s a cauldron of pressure like few others in golf. After surviving through to the final stage of Q-School, 156 players battle it out over six gruelling rounds in a bid to earn some sort of status on the DP World Tour. For those that make it, the reward is immense; for those who miss out, it can be a bitter pill to swallow.
This year’s field at Infinitum’s Lakes and Hills courses in Spain understood the usual mixture of up-and-comers looking to take the next step on what could be a world-beating career and former household names who have, for one reason or another, seen their careers stall.
Not everyone can successfully navigate the four-round cut, so here we take a look at some of the big names who fell short at the 72-hole mark at this year’s DP World Tour Qualifying School.
The Spaniard won seven times on what was formerly the European Tour between 2005 and 2013 but has struggled for form since making an ill-fated switch to the PGA Tour in 2014. At Q-School this year, rounds of 72, 66, 76 and 68 saw him fall one shot short of joining the 72 players who made the five-under cut.
Joining Fernandez-Castano on -4 was Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher. The former Ryder Cupper suffered a wrist injury in 2014 that struck him at quite possibly the worst time in his career and doctors left with no option but to cut off the aggravated bit of tendon. Still, a change of technique was required and he’s never quite been the same golfer that captured back-to-back Dubai Desert Classic titles in 2013 and ’14 since.
A win at the 2019 Hero Indian Open was a reminder of the talent he possesses but he wasn’t able to show that across his four days in Tarragona, Spain. He gave himself a sniff of progressing with a seven-under 64 on day three but failed to build on that momentum and came up shy courtesy of a closing level-par 72.
A real blast from the past, Simon Dyson got off to a flying start with a five-under 66 on the Lakes Course. Two level-par 72s on the Hills Course weren’t disastrous but a closing 73 back on the Lakes that included two double-bogeys put paid to his hopes of a return to the tour he won on six times between 2006 and 2011.
The final stage of Q-School this year also proved a step too far for Gregory Bourdy, who gave himself a mountain to climb at two-over through 36 holes. To his credit, he recovered well to finish three-under overall, but the damage was already done for the French four-time DP World Tour winner.
From one French Gregory to another, Havret will be ruing a final round 76 that left him four shots adrift of the magic mark at one-under. Having recovered from an opening 75, four bogeys and 14 pars sealed the fate of the three-time DP World Tour winner and former US Open runner-up.
Ireland’s Paul Dunne shot to relative fame as an amateur with his performance at the 2015 Open at St Andrews, sharing the lead with Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen heading into Sunday’s final round. A faltering back-nine saw him slip well out of contention but many would tipped him to establish himself among Europe’s elite when he joined the pro ranks later that year.
He picked up his only DP World Tour win to date at the 2017 British Masters and was as high as 65th in the world rankings as recently as 2018. A steady loss of form since then now has him outside the top 1,300 and he had little to smile about at Q-School this year.
Opening rounds of 74 and 72 put him well out of contention and his final score of level by meant he made an early exit.
A name known in most golfing quarters, David Howell had another crack at Q-School this year. Winner of five DP World Tour events, including the 2005 HSBC Champions in which he slayed Tiger Woods, he is now a regular pundit on Sky Sports Golf but clearly still harbors ambitions of regaining his full status.
He joined the 700 club at Celtic Manor this year but had less to cheer about in Spain this week, his four-over total nine too many to qualify for the final two rounds.
A brilliant golfer to watch in full flow, a wrist injury in 2012 seemed to derail the career of Alvaro Quiros. Once on the periphery of the top 20, he is now ranked outside the top 700 and couldn’t produce the goods in his home country to regain his card.
A four-round total of five-over means opportunities to add to his seven DP World Tour titles will be few and far between for the 39-year-old in 2023.