Surrey golfer Phil Jonas secures European Senior Tour card with clutch final round
VANCOUVER — Phil Jonas knew he had to go low and did just that Thursday, firing a four-under 67 that earned him his full card on this year's European Senior Tour.
With just six full cards up for grabs at the tour's 72-hole qualifying school on Portugal's Algarve coast, the Surrey resident finished right on the number in a two-way tie for fifth at three-under par.
"I played well today, only missed one fairway and one green," said Jonas, who feared he may have lost his card with a three-putt bogey on the 18th green.
"The only blemish was that three-putt on 18," he said. "It was incredibly nerve-wracking the last few holes with some dangerous holes. When I hit the 18th green, I thought I was okay only to miss a very short putt."
Jonas, the PGA of B.C.'s teacher of the year who works out of Hazelmere and McCleery, began Thursday's final round in a tie for 17th place.
Mark Forrest, the head pro at Belmont in Langley who narrowly missed getting through the first stage of Q school last week in Portugal, caddied for Jonas.
"Mark was a great help," Jonas said. "I've also got thank the West Coast Golf Group and (president) Mike Stuart for his support and encouragement to play. I couldn't do it without them.
“Also, of course, my wife Patty for telling me to come and do this and handling things at home."
Jonas is not yet able to plan his schedule as the tour has only posted five tournaments for this year. Jonas expects the full schedule will include about a dozen events.
"As for my schedule, I'm still going to work as they don't have many tournaments and I will try not to be away from teaching and family for more than two weeks at a time," he said.
Jonas earned a one-time exemption into last year's Senior British Open at Turnberry in Scotland for a win he got on the South African Tour way back in 1990. Jonas made the cut at Turnberry and hopes to play his way into this year's Senior Open at Royal Birkdale as the card he earned Thursday does not include an exemption into the Senior Open.
Jean Laforce of Quebec finished one shot behind Jonas in a three-way tie for seventh place and earned a conditional card.
Purses on the European Senior Tour typically range from between 200,000 and 400,000 Euros. The purse for last year's Senior Open Championship was more than 1.6 million Euros.
Most events are 54 holes with no cut and a 73-man field.
Victoria's Rick Gibson had full status on last year's European Senior Tour and finished 34th on the money list with earnings of 45,848 Euros. The top 30 players retained their full privileges, but Gibson should draw into most events this year.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun