Ablett targets Euro place

James Ablett. Picture: Rob Atkins
James Ablett. Picture: Rob Atkins
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James Ablett knows his world could be turned upside down over the next few weeks if he can produce his best form when it really matters.

The 37-year-old from Lee-on-the-Solent tees off in the second stage of European Tour Qualifying School at Campo de Golf El Saler on Friday as he makes a bid to win a place among the elite of European golf.

After coming through the first stage at Frilford Heath recently, Ablett knows a place in the top 20 should secure his entry into next week’s final stage at PGA Catalunya where tour cards are up for grabs.

But while it’s a daunting prospect, he is keen to stay focused on the present as he attempts to turn his undoubted potential into a place in the top tier of European golf.

Ablett said: ‘I know things could be turned on their head in less than a month’s time.

‘But until it actually happens, you can’t really comprehend what it would be like.

‘So I will just try to grind round the golf course as best as I can and concentrate on the here and now rather than think “what will I do if I get my card?”

‘I’ve never made it through to final stage before – I missed it by two shots one year.

‘But I’m happy with the way I am swinging it and, at the moment, I am not doing anything really destructive in a round.

‘It’s about keeping it in play and giving myself the chance.

‘And if the putter performs, I would be fairly confident of getting through because I believe I can shoot under par every time I play.’

While it’s been another good season on the regional circuit, it’s an entirely different proposition to mixing it with the battle-hardened touring pros who have vast experience in the bigger events.

But Ablett feels the consistency in his game gives him more chance of success this year.

He said: ‘Financially, it was a bit more viable this time.

‘I don’t have any sponsors so I have to fund myself with my winnings over the course of the season.

‘And I have a mortgage to pay every month as well!

‘Its £1,400 entry and all the expenses that go with it so I probably won’t get much change out £3,000. But my stroke average has gone down and my scoring is more consistent.

‘My really good rounds maybe aren’t quite as low but my bad rounds are not as bad as they have been in recent years.

‘Even when I felt I haven’t scored that well or putted that well, I have still been shooting level par or one under.

‘If that is a bad day, that’s exactly what you need to be able to compete at Tour School.’

Even if Ablett doesn’t make it through for the marathon scramble for cards, he could yet earn some lucrative starts for next season after finishing third in the PGA Southern Region order of merit.

He explained: ‘I’m off to Turkey in December for the PGA play-offs.

‘If you finish in the top-10, you get a place in the the BMW Championship at Wentworth.

‘And there are also places in the Wales and Scottish Open up for grabs and some starts on the Challenge Tour.’

Ablett is not the only local pro gunning for a chance at the top table.

Corhampton’s Neil Raymond was also in action at second stage of European Tour Qualifying School at Lumine Golf Club.