Darren Wright will attempt to take a giant step towards becoming a fully-fledged European Tour professional when he tees off in the second stage of Qualifying School tomorrow.
The talented Rowlands Castle youngster only recently stepped up from the amateur game and will be up against around 100 rivals who’ll be bidding to finish in the top 25 per cent of the field to claim a place at the final stage of the gruelling process.
If Wright successfully comes through the four-round examination at Costa Ballena in Spain, he will then face a six-round marathon, with a European Tour card on offer at PGA Catalunya next week.
But despite the possible prize on offer, Wright remains calm and believes he can profit in Andalucia.
He said: ‘I’ve had a good practice round and the course is in really good condition and I’m looking forward to it. I’m quite relaxed about the whole thing, to be honest.
‘I was at second stage last year. It was a new thing for me and I went with the wrong mentality thinking I had to go out there and rip it up to shoot low scores.
‘I will have to play well, but it’s more about keeping it steady. One or two under par every day and I will be flying through.
‘It’s about staying in contention and I learned a lot last year.
‘There’s usually around 90-115 players bidding to be in about the top 20 or so.
‘So if I get in the top 10, I will be fine.’
Former Lee-on-the-Solent man Sam Hutsby will also be taking his place in the second stage of qualifying after a disappointing campaign on the Challenge Tour.
But Hutsby has shone in this format before, storming through to claim his full playing privileges at the 2009 event.
Wright said: ‘I haven’t crossed paths with Sam but it would be great for both of us to get through.
‘To have two young pros from Hampshire on leading tours in Europe would be great for the region.’
While Hutsby’s ranking assures him a place on next season’s Challenge Tour, Wright has so far earned himself places on feeder tours – the Alps and the EDP.
But with a back-up plan in place after securing his Alps Tour place recently, he is now aiming for the more high-profile and more lucrative tournaments.
He said: ‘I managed to get my card on the Alps Tour.
‘So I’ve got a back-up plan to play on that and I can play in every event on the EDP tour next season if I wanted.
‘I didn’t really enjoy the courses but I managed to get the job done.
‘I dug myself out of a hole but I finished with three birdies in four holes to make it right on the mark. It means I’ve got myself a card, but I cut it fine!
‘The Alps Tour and EDP feeds into the Challenge Tour so I already have those sorted, but now I’m aiming for the next stage to try to get the bigger tours sorted.
‘But if it doesn’t work out for me then there are other options.’