Ablett’s putter fails him

James Ablett. Picture: Mick Young
James Ablett. Picture: Mick Young
Scott Gregory

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James Ablett admits his putting needs some drastic work after blowing his chance at making the final stage of European Tour Qualifying School.

The Lee-on-the-Solent man was joint leader at the midway point at Campo de Golf El Saler after opening rounds of 72 and a fine 69 took him to three under par.

But his hopes of finishing the job drifted away with a nightmare on the greens as he then posted rounds of 76 and 77 to finish at six over par – eight strokes adrift of the final qualifying berth.

While Ablett was philosophical and remained positive, he knows putting separates those who play on the top tier and the nearly men.

He said: ‘It’s a simple verdict: I need to fundamentally sort out what is going wrong with my putting.

‘I putted horrifically. I finished at level par on the first day and I should have been five under.

‘I then missed another three or four on the second day.

‘I certainly didn’t feel out of my depth playing against some of those guys who have been on the European Tour this season.

‘I went there not knowing whether I was at that standard but now I feel as though I am better than a lot of those guys.

‘If I’d even been average with the putter, I would have qualified in the top three but I was probably the worst putter there this week.

‘My best round was 33 putts and you should be looking for 28 to 30.

‘I think I missed 17 putts between three and six feet over four rounds.

‘I was averaging 14 or 15 greens in regulation and I managed eight birdies in four rounds.

‘It’s not good enough and it can’t continue like that. It’s so frustrating.’

While it crossed the 37-year-old’s mind to try something radical to correct the glitch in his stroke, he will instead rely on his coach, Ian Roper, to try to solve the problem.

He said: ‘I seemed to be missing them to the left and I will be going to see my coach, Ian Roper, this week to try to sort it out.

‘When you try to correct something like that during a round, it never works.

‘You never know – sometimes one shot or one putt can be the trigger in a round, so you don’t want to do anything too drastic.

‘They were shaving the hole or lipping out, so they weren’t missing by much.

‘You lose that instinctive feel so you try to do it after a round.

‘It was fine on the putting green afterwards. I just couldn’t get my head around it.’

While he now switches his attention to the PGA play-offs in Turkey later this month, Ablett knows he missed a golden opportunity to close in on at least a place on the Challenge Tour.

He said: ‘After the first two rounds, I knew level par for 36 holes would cruise in. But I was playing better than that.

‘All I can do now is work hard for the next two weeks before I go to Turkey.

‘That’s my focus now.

‘I can still get some starts on Tour or the Challenge Tour if I do well out there.’

There was more bad news for Corhampton’s Neil Raymond.

He was way off the pace and failed to make it through at Lumine Golf Club.

Rounds of 72, 70, 73 and 76 left him at seven over par and in 64th place, while the final qualifier made it through at nine under par.