Ablett closes in on Wentworth place

Lee-on-the-Solent professional James Ablett
Lee-on-the-Solent professional James Ablett
Scott Gregory. Picture: Andrew Griffin

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James Ablett believes he deserves his second chance at Wentworth as he attempts to secure his place at the BMW PGA Championship.

The Lee-on-the-Solent professional stormed to the PGA south region order of merit after a fine season and will be chasing one of 10 qualifying spots from the 25-man field at the PGA play-offs in Antalya, Turkey, later this week.

I feel like I deserve my place at Wentworth.

James Ablett

The 38-year-old goes into the tournament buoyed by an impressive campaign as he landed 14 wins, eight runners-up spots and 11 other top-five finishes.

He picked up two order of merit events – the PGA Surrey Open Championship at Kingswood and the PGA Kent Open at Prince’s.

Victory in Turkey could earn him starts on both the European Tour and the Challenge Tour next season.

But his primary motivation is the opportunity to take another shot at the European Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth, after one previous appearance in 2009.

In the event won by Paul Casey, Ablett missed the cut by four strokes – after two rounds of 75 – and failed to make the weekend.

But he feels he deserves his place back among the European Tour elite, especially as his results this season would have already secured his place before the rules were changed in 2011.

Ablett said: ‘There are 10 places for Wentworth out of the 25.

‘So, obviously, that’s the main goal for me.

‘I’ve won the region and it used to count for an automatic spot.

‘I’ve had a really good year but I could go there, finish 11th and I’ve got nothing extra from the year.

‘It plays on your mind a bit and I’m sure it does for all of the regional winners.

‘I feel like I deserve my place at Wentworth.

‘I’ve won my region quite comfortably but I want to wake up next week knowing I have got a spot at the PGA so I need to go out there and make sure it happens.’

Up against the battle-hardened European Tour players, it is always a difficult gap to bridge for the PGA regional qualifiers so early in their season.

But Ablett wants to make sure he is there again next May and is determined to make sure his preparations give him the best opportunity.

He said: ‘I played in 2009 and missed the cut.

‘It’s so early in the year. Competitively, we are not at the same level as the guys on Tour – their new season starts next week so they will have been playing competitive events for months.

‘But if I get there this time, I’ve got a lot lined up to make sure the brain is ready for it.

‘It was good fun last time. I had two or three really nice moments.

‘It was nice on that first morning when Ivor Robson announced my name on the first tee.

‘I hit the ball okay, but I didn’t putt very well and I was pretty average in all departments because your game is not quite as sharp as it should be.’

While the season has now ended, Ablett has been doing his best to get himself ready for the 72-hole showdown in Turkey.

He added: ‘I’ve been doing a bit of practice and playing to keep the brain on the golf course as much as possible.

‘But it’s the same for everyone really at this time of the year.

‘You’re always a bit apprehensive but I’m looking forward to it.’