Sam Hutsby starts his annual battle for a full European Tour card this week with a new driver in his bag and experience on his side.
The former Lee-on-the-Solent man celebrated his 25th birthday earlier this week.
He will start his bid to rejoin Europe’s elite at Lumine Golf & Beach Club, Tarragona, Spain at the second stage of Qualifying School on Saturday.
Around 80 players, out of more than 300, from four venues, will make it through to the final stage at PGA Catalunya.
That’s where Hutsby saved his skin last year, bravely earning himself a year on Challenge Tour when he was in real danger of finding himself without a tour card of any description.
But while a disappointing campaign saw him manage only 59th in the rankings, with earnings of around 25,000 Euros and just two top-10 finishes this term, Hutsby is hopeful a new big stick and an impressive record at Q School can lead him back to the top tier of European golf.
His manager Brian Roake said: ‘It was a little bit disappointing this year for Sam, to be honest.
‘But considering the year he had last year, it is an improvement.
‘He’s already got category eight on the Challenge Tour but he’s going to Q School to see if he can improve that category or get through to get his card on the main European Tour.
‘He should get into almost all of the Challenge Tour events but he wants to improve that.
‘The one thing about Sam is that he is very experienced at Q School.
‘He has finished second twice and 44th last year.
‘There are a lot of guys who will be there and will be very nervous but I don’t think Sam will be because he knows the process.
‘And he hasn’t been happy with his driver but he went for a refit last week and is much happier with the Taylor Made SLDR now.
‘During their analysis, they suggested his ball-striking was as good as anything that their top-five players have got.
‘That should give him some extra confidence.’
For a player of his undoubted talent, it’s been a season of frustration once again for Hutsby.
He missed out on this week’s season-ending Challenge Tour final after finishing outside the top-45 in the rankings.
His best performance came in Brittany where he finished fourth.
But there have been far too many missed cuts – especially at the more lucrative events.
Roake said: ‘The thing with Sam is that he is a birdie machine.
‘But the trouble is the amount of bogeys he gets.
‘He is probably near the top of the table on both of those categories this season.
‘We think we have got him going in the right direction.
‘If he can stop the silly mistakes out on the course, he will be back up there.
‘He knows he has got the talent but has made too many errors on the course.
‘But we know it’s there. He has got the game.
‘We are working on it and we are quite excited about next year.’
After winnings of 197,000 Euros in 2010, it has since been three seasons of struggle for the former Walker Cup man.
But Roake is certain his player is on the way back.
He said: ‘Most people know that he wasn’t happy with his previous management company.
‘So we’ve let him do what he wants to do this year and that has semi-worked.
‘But now we are also advising him on one or two things as well.
‘Taylor Made believe in him, we believe in him and there are plenty of others who do as well.’