Former Wigan Athletic midfielder Jimmy Bullard has made it through the First Stage of PGA EuroPro Tour Qualifying School as he looks to make the grade on the professional golf circuit.
The 34-year-old, whose former clubs also include Fulham and Hull City, shot rounds of 75 and 76 on the par-72 Constable Course at Stoke By Nayland Golf Club to finish his 36 holes seven over par and make it through to next week’s Qualifying School Final Stage at Frilford Heath Golf Club by four shots.
“The first round was steady for me,” he said. “I felt like I could have played better but it was difficult in the wind. On Thursday we had a lot of snow but everyone is in the same boat.
“It was a little bit into the unknown for me. I am used to playing football so for me to come up here for the first time with a pencil and card in my hand was a different pressure but I really enjoyed it. I couldn’t sleep last night, I just wanted to get out there again!
“I entered PGA EuroPro Tour Q School as an amateur just in case I didn’t qualify, then I could go back and play some amateur events and some medals. But do I believe I can qualify? Yes, of course I do.
“I have enjoyed it so much and it has given me a bit of direction in my life. I finished playing football in October and coming out of a sport you have played for 15 years it goes stone dead and it is quite a surreal feeling, quite a weird feeling I had going on in myself and golf has got me out of trouble a little bit.”
Stoke By Nayland was one of three host venues for PGA EuroPro Tour Qualifying School First Stage. Greg Payne (Chobham Golf Club) headed the 67 who qualified from the East Anglia course to play at Final Stage. He finished four under par after rounds of 69 and 71.
At The Players Club in Bristol 68 golfers qualified to play at Frilford Heath after the tournament was reduced to 18 holes due to adverse weather delaying the start of play on both days. Benjamin Martin hit an impressive two-under-par 68 to top the leaderboard in testing conditions.
Play was also delayed at De Vere Oulton Hall, a course which stepped in to save the day last week after six inches of snow fell on De Vere Slaley Hall, the original host venue. Scotsman Paul Shields (Kirkhill Golf Club) led the 61 qualifiers, finishing three under par after rounds of 66 and 71 on the par-70 course.
Qualifying School Final Stage takes place at Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxfordshire next Wednesday, April 10 over 54 holes, concluding on Friday, April 12. A total of 240 golfers will take part hoping to earn a card for the 2013 season.
The PGA EuroPro Tour is the UK’s leading professional golf tour and makes up part of the third tier of European Golf. The top five earners on the season’s final Order of Merit earn categories to play on the Challenge Tour, putting them one step away from the European Tour.
A host of former PGA EuroPro Tour players have gone on to win on the European Tour including major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and Ryder Cup winners Ross Fisher and Nicolas Colsaerts. The Tour’s 2009 Order of Merit winner Scott Jamieson won his first European Tour event at the Nelson Mandela Championship last December.