The final countdown

Chris Paisley picks up a pair of top 10s at the end of the regular season and sets his sights on the Race to Dubai finals

October was an interesting month – personally and for a lot of my peers.

The season came to an end with a three week run including the Italian Open, French Open and Portugal Masters. The closing stretch is always fascinating and you can feel the atmosphere becoming more and more intense as the end of the season closes in. There are always both wonderful and gut wrenching stories. 

My close friend Justin Walters has had a difficult year on and off the course. He tore his calf in the summer and missed two Rolex series events, then lost his father in August. He needed a miracle run at the end of the season and after a top 10 in Italy, he finished second in Portugal to retain his card! He has faced a lot of adversity and it was emotional to see him come out on top.

Meanwhile, Steven Brown needed a solo third in Portugal to keep his card, so he went ahead and won – a gutsy performance to say the least! Hugo Leon has struggled this year, but produced some great golf in the final two events, finishing eighth and 21st, but missed his card by just a few points. A young Frenchman and very talented player, Clement Sordet, made a nine on the final hole in France to miss the cut by a shot, and then missed the cut in Portugal to miss his card by a couple of spots. A brutal way to end a long season. 

Personally, my card was safe so the goal was to climb the rankings as much as possible to get into the final series events. I was going well in the Italian Open, but played the last five holes in three over-par, which cost me a lot of points. The event being part of the Rolex Series made that pill even tougher to swallow. I was furious with myself and recall telling my brother about my need to learn to finish tournaments stronger.

On to France and a brutal golf course. The weather was cold, wet, and windy. I was playing some nice golf again and entered the final round in 20th place. A slow start meant I was two over-par after eight holes. Determined not to finish another week poorly, I seemed to find another gear and played the last 11 holes in six under-par. It was the best I have played in years given the difficulty of those holes and the weather conditions. To play such a hard stretch so well was a huge confidence boost and it shot me up to eighth place.

The following week, in Portugal, I was playing well and in 20th place again going in to the final round. I shot a delightful, bogey free round of 64 to move up to fifth place. Those were two very satisfying Sundays, especially after that chat with my brother in Italy.

After a strong end to the regular season, I’m sitting 63rd in the Race to Dubai. I’m guaranteed to play in Turkey and 95% certain for Sun City, but I’ll need a good finish to jump into the top 50 for the DP World in Dubai. My confidence is on the up so my goal of a top 20 finish in the Race to Dubai is still possible.