Norfolk’s Andrew Marshall looking forward to European Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage

Dereham's Andrew Marshall starts his bid to win a European Tour card for next season tomorrow in Spain. Dereham's Andrew Marshall starts his bid to win a European Tour card for next season tomorrow in Spain.

Friday, November 23, 2012
4:40 PM

Norfolk’s Andrew Marshall is hoping to be in seventh heaven when he returns to the European Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage this week.

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Marshall has been there and done it all before – six times in fact – and insists that despite its nerve-shredding reputation, Q-school holds no fears for him.

The 39-year-old failed to retain his European Tour card after finishing 132nd in the Race to Dubai money list, with the top 119 players automatically earning their playing privileges for next season.

Despite this setback Marshall travels to the PGA Catalunya, Girona, Spain for the six-round marathon, which starts tomorrow, in confident mood having managed a top 30 finish in Hong Kong last week.

“It’s not ideal that I have to go back to Q School,” said Marshall who first won his card in 2002 and again in 2011. “I’ve been there before. It seems like I’m there every two years so I know the courses well. I’m quite looking forward to playing.

“It’s a six-round tournament with a four-round cut. The top 70 and ties make the cut out of 156 and then top 25, they’ve reduced the numbers from 30, get a card.”

Marshall knows that the pressure is off slightly going into Q School with his position in this season’s Race to Dubai guaranteeing him 14 European Tour starts next year.

“I only played 19 tournaments this year with a card. It just means if I get a card again I will be re-ranked and get entries into some bigger events and it just increases my chances of getting a card at the end of next year,” he added.

Marshall showed nerves of steel at the 2011 Qualifying School to earn his playing rights for this year.

Needing to par the last two holes to get in on the mark, he hacked out of bushes, chipped on to the green to 10 feet and holed the putt at the 17th, then sunk a 15-footer for par at the last, having again been in trouble off the tee.

And Marshall knows that he will have to be as mentally tough under pressure this time around to make it through.

“I played lovely last week in Hong Kong and I feel quite confident that I can go there and make an improvement on last year,” said Marshall.

“It goes without saying you need to play well, keep patient, hit fairways, hit the greens and hole a few putts. You need to shoot under par every day. I don’t think that six under would be good enough, but it won’t be far off. It’s important to switch off between each round. I’ve done it before and I know what it takes. I’ve got to stay away from all the negative guys, keep a low profile.

“It’s quite nice initially because you see a few old faces you haven’t see for a while so it’s a bit like an old boys reunion but then come the last two rounds the atmosphere changes.

“It is tough, you’ve got guys who have just missed out and have got their head in their hands and then you’ve got guys who have just made it who are celebrating.”

Despite not winning his Tour card, Marshall has enjoyed some successes this year – most memorably being his hole in one at the BMW Open, which won him a brand new 6 series Grand Coupe worth £100,000.

“It’s been a great season,” said Marshall, who banked 146,000 Euros. “I won a car! I played very steadily during the summer months, making a lot of cuts, but when I stopped playing after the Scottish Open my game seemed to go off the boil.

“Playing a week on, a week off your game starts to deteriorate and you get less sharp.

“I tried to keep on top of it and then each tournament becomes that much more important and it seemed the harder I tried the worse things got.

“The Scottish Open was my big chance when I was on the leaderboard on the Saturday. I had a bad last hole on the Saturday and then only shot level on the Sunday.

“Had I not double-bogeyed the last on Saturday and then shot level like I did I’d have probably finished 15th rather than 30th and I’d have probably kept my card.”

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