Peter Godsiff: Holland heads for Portugal to try to gain his European Tour card
ROY Holland has just completed his best season as a player and is now contesting the first stage of the European Tour School in Portugal this week.
He left on Friday for Ribagolfe, a two-course complex near Lisbon, to practice before the tough, four-round examination.
"I have decided to give Tour school a go for the first time," said the 32-year-old Long Ashton assistant professional.
"I want to see if can play well under pressure.
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"My game feels OK and if I can put together four decent rounds over a tight, but long course, who knows where it might lead. I have been playing the best golf of my career this year."
There was a time when he had a chance of finishing in the top three of the West Region PGA Race to Woodbury Park order of merit which opens the door to entry into several European Tour and Challenge Tour events next year. Unfortunately, he missed three of the seven tournaments and finished 26th.
He said: "I didn't play as often as I should have done, but hope to rectify that next year. My position would have been higher if I hadn't booked a holiday that coincided with the last event at Woodbury Park.
"But I have started and finished the season well so I am quietly confident I can get through to the second stage in November."
Former Millfield schoolboy Holland used to live in Portugal and worked at Parque do Floresta in the Algarve for four years. A close pal said he would caddy for him if he ever returned to play in any tournaments. He has not only taken up the offer, he is staying with him as well. He can certainly expect better weather in Portugal than he endured in his previous tournament last week.
He was defeated 4 and 3 by Cirencester's Ed Goodwin, the West Region PGA captain, in the final of the Gloucester and Somerset PGA matchplay championship at Henbury.
After the weather disrupted the opening day, three rounds were squeezed into a day to complete the tournament that was sponsored by Bristol-based chartered accountants Wormald & Partners
Goodwin produced a barrage of birdies in the final and was four ahead by the 11th. Defending champion Goodwin had completed 44 holes and Holland 46 during their longest day of golf – and that included three tough trips up the notorious Henbury Hill.
In the first round, home assistant and top seed Ross Langdon beat Mike Laband (Weston-super-Mare) 4 and 3, Rod Hibbitt (Cotswold Edge) beat Danny White (The Players Club) 2 and 1, Goodwin beat Ryan Dix (Cirencester) 2 and 1, David Haines (Brean) beat Terry Williams (Farrington) 1up, Nick Ellis (Naunton Downs) beat Kevin Pitts (The Mendip) 2up, Daryl Kelley (Filton) beat Pat Baker (Mendip Spring) 4 and 3, Holland beat Alex Munro (Oake Manor) 4 and 3.
Paul Gravell stepped in to replace his Bristol Golf Centre colleague Giuseppe Licata, who withdrew due to the birth of his first child and dispatched second seed Andrew March (Brean) at the final hole.
The weather was kinder for the quarter-final on day two when Goodwin defeated Haines 8 and 7, Holland beat Kelley 5 and 4, Hibbitt beat Langdon to 3 and 2 and Ellis beat Gravell on the last green.
The semi-finals were close. Goodwin only overcame Hibbitt at the 18th while Holland reached his second final in three years by taking out Ellis 2 and 1.
Laurie Canter (Saltford) and Ashley Mansell (Clevedon) are the other local players also hoping to qualify for the second stage. They are competing in this week's first stage at Frilford Heath. The leading 29 players and ties from each course progress to the next round.