O’Briain running out of time in Tour card pursuit

Bernie McGuire
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O’Briain running out of time in Tour card pursuit

 Neil O’Briain / Image from Getty Images

Neil O’Briain tees up at the Limpopo Championship tomorrow hopeful of retaining his playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour for next year.

Last year’s Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year Neil O’Briain finds himself narrowly outside the top-100 on the money-list with the Tour Championship just two weeks away.  The Dubliner has shown glimpses of his best stuff over the course of a month-long spell in South Africa but the pressures that come with retaining a tour card are hanging over his head and O’Briain is looking to turn a number of nearly-weeks into that one where it all clicks, starting tomorrow at Euphoria Estate.

“My game has been quite good,” reflected O’Briain who claimed a top-25 finish at the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt Golf Club last month. “I played the golf course today before we got called off for thunder and lightning. It’s quite similar to Eye of Africa in that it’s long, soft and wide but still quite good.

“It’s not my style of golf course but neither was Eye of Africa,” he noted, where he finished in a tie for 22nd at the season opener in February.

“They’re both long and I’m not necessarily a long player but the greens are good so if I can get it going on them and play solid, hopefully I’ll make something happen.

“I’ve worked on things a fair bit over the weekend. A couple of things that I identified that needed work have been looked at and I’m feeling good going into the week.”

The sub-plot to this week doesn’t make things any easier for the Old Conna man as his Sunshine Tour future hangs in the balance. O’Briain officially sits in 110th on the Order of Merit but with the Sunshine Tour requiring players to play a minimum of five events to qualify for a card, 8 of the 10 between 100-110 on the money list are already ruled out for failing to make the requirement.

Although that makes the equation that bit easier to solve, it’s an extra pressure to the already intense day-to-day strain of satellite tour golf that O’Briain must overcome to secure his playing ticket for next year.

“I need to play well,” he admits. “In all honesty, I’ll need to win to break into the top-50 on the Order of Merit- that gets me category 4 status which gets me into all the co-sanctioned events which is huge obviously!

“So yeah, the goal is to win. It’s tough going to get down here. Even these few weeks I’ve played well and pulled away a few quid but the competition is fierce. Hopefully when it’s all said and done I’ll have come out on the right side of the result.”

The Limpopo Championship starts tomorrow and is set to be played at Euphoria Estate from March 7-11.

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