April 15, 2024

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After grueling qualifying exams, Sam Jones secures entry to lucrative DP World Tour event

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Just two weeks after turning professional, Taranaki’s newest golfer Sam Jones has qualified for the lucrative DP World Tour.

After six grueling rounds in the final stages of the DP World Tour Qualifying School in Spain, Jones’ place on the tour was confirmed after the final round on Thursday morning. The Manaia golfer, who led Taranaki to its first-ever inter-provincial men’s title two years ago, will head to Europe alongside New Zealanders Ryan Fox and Daniel Hillier and is expected to make his debut in at least 20 events.

This year’s DP World Tour features 39 tournaments in 26 countries, including combined events across five continents. Tour success can generate millions of dollars in earnings for golfers. Top-ranked players on the tour, such as world No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Jon Rahm, have won sizable prize money totaling $16.68 million through the Race to Dubai, the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

After grueling qualifying exams, Sam Jones secures entry to lucrative DP World Tour event

Jones hasn’t had much time to adjust to his new status, as next week’s Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland Golf Club will be the first tour event he starts.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for Jones, who represented New Zealand at the Eisenhower Cup, the world’s premier amateur event, in Abu Dhabi in late October. He then competed in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne before traveling to Spain for the second stage of the Qualifying School and advancing to the final in fourth place.

He then shot rounds of 68, 69, 70 and 65 at Infinitum Golf to advance to the 72nd hole, which would have earned him a full Challenge Tour berth. However, if he can finish in the top 25 and earn a spot on the DP World Tour, the biggest gains will come in the final two rounds.

Jones performed well, shooting 68 and 66 in the final two rounds to finish seventh.

“I’m speechless to be honest,” Jones told Golf New Zealand.” I had to change my flight and stay in Spain for the final stage, so I wasn’t expecting anything – I didn’t think I was going to make the second stage.

“It’s crazy to be standing here now after all that. Like I said, I’m speechless.

Jones admitted the pressure of playing 10 rounds in the last two weeks and the mental challenge of achieving long-term goals. He also described the mounting tension he experienced during the final stretch.

“I am who I am and I think about all the details – what category I’m going to get and so on,” he said.

“Obviously with the start of the DP World Tour, the increase in prize money and everything that comes with it – going into rounds five and six – I was really nervous.

“I thought I could handle it. But honestly, it’s been a real grind and I’m glad to be out of it.”

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