European Tour card can boost Booth family fortune

Wallace Booth is aiming to get through qualifying school. Picture: AP
Wallace Booth is aiming to get through qualifying school. Picture: AP
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BIG brother has been watching. Indeed, Wallace Booth is proud of sister Carly, having seen his sibling fulfil her potential with two wins on the Ladies European Tour this season, the first coming on home soil in the Scottish Open at Archerfield Links.

“I always knew she had the game; all she needed was a confidence boost and she’s certainly had a fantastic season,” said ­Wallace, who hasn’t done too badly himself and now has the chance to make it a really special year for the Booth family over the next few weeks.

Today, in southern Spain, he’s among 15 Scottish hopefuls taking part in the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School, four 72-hole events at four venues offering spots in the final, a six-round test in Girona at the end of the month.

Success there would earn Booth a card for next year’s European Tour, but he’d settle for a step up to the second-tier Challenge Tour, an avenue that is also still open to him through the PGA EuroPro Tour, where the Perthshire man claimed the Scottish Classic – his maiden professional win – at Mar Hall in August.

Heading into next week’s Tour Championship – an event being held two months after the end of the regular season and in Britain, Woburn to be precise – Booth is sitting fifth on the money list and needs to stay there to join compatriot Duncan Stewart in securing a Challenge Tour berth next season.

“If I can take care of business, one way or the other, over the next couple of weeks, it will certainly make it a really nice season for us,” said the 27-year-old, a former Scottish Stroke-Play champion who helped Scotland win the Eisenhower Trophy in 2008 then played in the Walker Cup the following year.

An Augusta State alumnus, Booth makes no secret of the fact he’d like to be pursuing his professional career in America. Indeed, he recently had a crack at the PGA Tour Qualifying School, clearing the first hurdle before falling at the next one. “It’s probably the best I’ve hit it tee to green all year, but I had 33 putts in each of the last two rounds,” he said.

For the time being, though, he’s going to have to concentrate on the European front and he’ll settle for that, especially when he thinks back to a year ago and remembers that he was struggling to raise his left arm due to a niggling shoulder injury.

“I’m just grateful to be playing golf again,” he said. “Once I was finally able to start practising again after my shoulder trouble, I then suffered nerve damage in my left wrist. It was one thing after the other and there was a spell when I feared my career might have been over.”

Booth sets out today at Las Colinas, near Alicante, while Steven O’Hara, Lloyd Saltman and Callum Macaulay are in the fields at Lumine Golf, El Saler and El Valle respectively.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Open begins tomorrow and as he warmed up for the tournament, John Daly says he has finally found the maturity to match his talent.

With his ‘grip it and rip it’ style and unconventional swing that resulted in huge driving distances, Daly shot to fame with his 1991 US PGA Championship win, followed by his success at the 1995 Open. Despite his potential, Daly’s game then fell apart in the midst of four divorces and alcohol addiction.

Tournament invite exemptions ended as the American toured with limited success, relying on sponsors invites as his world ranking fell to 827 last year. An ugly row with organisers at an event in Australia which grabbed unwanted headlines added insult to injury. While Daly acknowledged he remains as capable of shooting an 83 as a 63, he said he was a much calmer figure now. “The intriguing thing about me is I don’t know which John Daly will show up on the golf course,” he said. “But I know it’s a more trying, more dedicated John Daly every day. I’m 46 now and I think I’ve learned an awful lot on managing golf courses a little better and picking my poison, whether to go for it or not. Early 90s I had no clue, I just went for everything.”

A more considered approach has left the American optimistic about retaining his PGA and European Tour cards this year. Currently he is 143rd on the PGA Tour money list needing to stay in the top 150 for more tournament invites next year, while he sits 81st in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. “I have some decisions to make,” the world No 191 said when asked if he would play both tours next year.