Craig Lee ‘quietly confident’ he can keep European Tour card

Craig Lee closed with a 68 on the Old Course to finish joint-25th in the Dunhill Links. Picture: Getty Images
Craig Lee closed with a 68 on the Old Course to finish joint-25th in the Dunhill Links. Picture: Getty Images
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Craig Lee is feeling confident he can come through a third successive sweaty end to the season with his European Tour card still intact.

The 39-year-old from Stirling is making it a habit of taking it right to the wire in an annual battle to hang on to his playing privileges.

He finished 107th in the Race to Dubai in 2014 after going into the final event, the Perth International, just two spots inside the top 110 who automatically retain their cards.

Saved by finishing joint-sixth in the penultimate event, the Portugal Masters, Lee then found himself breathing another sigh of relief as he ended up 100th on the money-list last season.

Now, with just this week’s British Masters at The Grove then the Portugal Masters on the Algarve next week to come, he’s cutting it fine once again.

He had been sitting 123rd before last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, and though unable to match Marc Warren’s feat in using that event to secure his immediate future by climbing 55 spots, it could also have helped Lee do likewise.

In finishing joint-25th to pick up just over £35,000, the former Tartan Tour star jumped from 123rd to 108th and is determined to at least cement that position in the final two events.

“I was pleased with my performance in the Dunhill Links and it was great from a confidence point of view as I played really nicely,” admitted Lee.

“It’s the first time I’ve played really well on the Old Course. It’s always managed to get the better of me in the past, so I was delighted to shoot four-under in the last round.

“Every year seems to be the same since I’ve held my card. I always seem to go into the final few events just outside the top 110 and chasing my card.

“But the good thing is that I know I’ve done it in the past and I certainly take confidence from that. It’s about using those past experiences and not allowing myself to get worked up about the position I’m in.

“It’s going to be interesting this year to see what the number is actually going to be for hanging on to cards because there are a lot of boys around the bubble who might not get into events and some really talented players behind us as well.

“It’s quite hard to work out what the number is going to be, but I’ll just be concentrating on my own golf in these next two events.”

Lee joins six other Scots - Richie Ramsay, Marc Warren, Stephen Gallacher, David Drysdale, Paul Lawrie and Scott Jamieson - as Luke Donald hosts the British Masters this time around after Ian Poulter had that role at Woburn 12 months ago.

“I’ve played The Grove plenty of times before,” added Lee. “One of my best mates, Leon Waren, is the pro down there and I’ve been there seeing him and playing the course.

“Portugal has also been good to me in the past and the great thing is that I’m now going into these events feeling confident again due to playing some good golf.

“I’m not putting as much pressure on myself to try and get the job done. It’s about trying to let my golf speak for itself and allow me to cross that line.

“It doesn’t take much at this level, especially how strong the fields are at this time of the year, for it to go the wrong way, but it’s in my hands now and that’s the most important thing and I’m quietly confident.”

Lee has been hindered by a wrist injury for most of the season but is soldiering on and will wait until the end of the campaign before deciding if he needs surgery.

“My left wrist still has to be taped up,” he said. “I’ve not hit shots for three months without it being taped, but it seems to be keeping it under control so I’m not going to change that.

“Touch wood, my health has been pretty good recently and hopefully it stays that way.”