The race for promotion is always a thrilling one in sport. Some Irish football fans will have the hairs on the back of their neck stand up at the sound of ‘Nations League Permutations’. Golf and permutations go hand in hand when sometimes it is easier to win and avoid any mathematical involvement.
For Gary Hurley the task is simple, win and he will receive a Challenge Tour card for next season, anything less than a high finish will leave his grip on one of the top-5 Alps Tour Order of Merit spots vulnerable at the eleventh hour.
Heading into this week’s Alps Tour Grand Final in the Bernhard Langer designed Modena GC, Hurley occupies fourth spot in the season-long standings and has a cushion of just shy of 2000 points from Stefano Mazzoli in 6th place.
It’s been a terrific season for the West Waterford native who picked up a maiden tour victory in June at the Alps de Andalucia.
Hurley has been in good form on the Challenge Tour as of late with a top-25 in Switzerland a fortnight ago setting him up nicely for his return to Alps Tour action.
Until last week’s Castelconturbia Alps Open there hadn’t been an event since July but Hurley maintained his promotion push with a third-place finish and another top-3 finish would get the job done this week.
The 29-year-old has been a model of consistency this term with one win and six top seven finishes while only missing two cuts.
High hopes were billed for the former Walker Cup player when he embarked on a professional career but the last 12 months have finally given him some stability. Now the club ambassador at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, some firm ground has given him the platform to perform to the levels he knows he is capable of.
Promotion to the Challenge Tour would represent a great opportunity to really kickstart his career as he approaches a golfer’s prime in their 30s.
A new outlook on golf and a more patient attitude has also reaped the rewards for Hurley who is certainly becoming one of the great thinkers in the game as he continues to trust the process.
“It’s not easy,” Hurley concedes. “Every week you have to rehearse, reset and prepare again. A lot of prep before the round for me comes away from the golf course, away from the range. It’s just about being ready to deal with whatever comes your way and being open to the challenge.
“There’s a lot of things that are going to happen this week, good, bad and indifferent but as long as I’m prepared and have some good processes in place, then everything is going to be OK.”
Naas man Jonathan Yates is 20th in the Alps Order of Merit but even a win would still see him come up shy of the all-important top-five places.
Yates still has promotion of his own on his mind after progressing to the Second Stage of DP World Tour Qualifying School in Italy last month.
Mallow native and former Amateur Champion James Sugrue completes the trio of Irish in the field as he looks to bounce back from a missed cut.
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