Boxing out of number 9 on this season’s Road to Mallorca standings, that journey ends this week for Cormac Sharvin who has all but secured Main Tour graduation from the Challenge Tour this year.
The Ardglass professional holds a healthy near 28,000–point lead over 16th place Lars Van Meijel with the top-15 players on the standings securing their European Tour cards for next season.
But even for those players guaranteed to graduate to the European Tour, there is still plenty to play for at the Grand Final. All 15 graduates will be placed in Category 15 on the European Tour’s access list. The higher a graduate finishes on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, the higher they will be ranked next season, which could be the difference between playing in some of the European Tour’s bigger events.
For Sharvin, that means opportunity knocks with the Northern Irishman still looking for a maiden victory on the Tour. It’s been an exceptional campaign, underlined by seven top-6 finishes, over €100,000 banked on the Challenge Tour alone and a season highlight where a venture to the European Tour for his home Open at Lahinch saw the 27-year old bank a top-15 finish and a cheque worth €85,655.
This week Sharvin lands alongside the top-45 players on the Tour this year at the stunning island of Mallorca, hosting the tournament for the first time in the 25-year history of the season-ending tournament. Life-changing promotion awaits the chosen 15, of which Sharvin will be one. All that’s left is to see how great a category the Northern Irishman can claim.
There are plenty of other stories too, not least Wil Besseling who goes into the Grand Final with a real chance of earning a European Tour card at the end of the week, an outcome which would complete a drastic change in fortunes for the Road to Mallorca Number 17.
The Dutchman was the first man to miss out on a spot in the season-finale in 2018, finishing 46th on the Rankings and, prior to the event, was just 359 points behind last-man-in Antoine Rozner.
However, bolstered by a tie for third place at the Hainan Open, Besseling will tee it up at Club de Golf Alcanada, Mallorca, just two places outside the all-important top 15 with success on Sunday at the forefront of his mind.
“Being here and being in the Grand Final is nice,” he said. “The Challenge Tour has done a good job in finding this place and having the Grand Final here.
“I’ve been playing decent over the last two months. I feel my game has grown and mentally I’m getting stronger so hopefully I can do well this week. Obviously I need a good finish here to get my card but I’m feeling confident to actually do it, so hopefully on Sunday I’ll be able to get my card.
“It’s a new course for everyone so it’s hard to think about scores, so I’m not thinking about that. You need to do everything well to actually win this event because everyone is playing well and everyone’s got a chance to win this week.”
The 33-year-old was in contention for his first European Challenge Tour win in 11 years in Hainan, but after finding the water on the penultimate hole of the tournament and carding a double-bogey, he was forced to settle for a share of third place.
A tied 46th place finish in the Foshan Open ended a strong two weeks for the man from The Netherlands where he more than halved his Road to Mallorca Ranking.
“I was 40th going into China so missing out again did go through my mind, but I felt good going into those events.
“The last few months have been going well so I was happy to be in contention in the first week in China in Hainan, and I actually expected a bit more in the second week. I wanted to be in a similar position to the week before, but that’s golf I guess.
“I was pretty pleased with how I played in China and it gave me a chance to get my card this week. It’s been good and hopefully I can get the job done.”
The Challenge Tour Grand Final is the 24th and final event on the Road to Mallorca, where the top 45 players on the Rankings compete for one of 15 European Tour cards on offer.
Such is the breakdown of prize money this week in Mallorca, any player will graduate to the European Tour with a victory, giving everyone in the field a shot at glory.
Playing privileges on the top tier is not the only prize on offer this week, as the battle to be crowned Challenge Tour Number One reaches its conclusion, with Scotsman Calum Hill currently leading the way from Francesco Laporta and Richard Bland.
Thursday’s tee-times, Irish time:
09.42am – Cormac Sharvin