Family affair as Craig Howie teams up with brother Darren in Challenge Tour Grand Final

Craig Howie hopes to secure his European Tour card this week and show his younger brother, Darren, the ropes about life as a professional golfer at the same time.

Craig Howie, second left, pictured with his amateur partners in the winning team in Tuesday's Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final Pro-Am at T-Golf & Country Club in Mallorca. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images.
Craig Howie, second left, pictured with his amateur partners in the winning team in Tuesday's Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final Pro-Am at T-Golf & Country Club in Mallorca. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images.

A recent recruit to the paid ranks, having made the jump after securing his playing privileges on the third-tier PGA EuroPro Tour next season, Darren is caddying for Craig in the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final in Mallorca.

“It’s good to have Darren on the bag,” said 27-year-old Howie, who sits 16th in the Road to Mallorca rankings and needs to stay inside the top 20 come Sunday night to be among the graduates. “He recently turned pro, so it is quite good for him to learn from a week like this.

“We’ve already played with a few good players when he’s caddied for me and I am comfortable with him at my side. He’s also played a lot of golf with me, so knows my game well and it’s nice to have a familiar face on the bag.”

Helped by a solid start to the campaign in South Africa then a breakthrough win in Sweden, Howie sat in the top 10 in the rankings until the end of August, but he now finds himself feeling the heat with one event to go at T-Golf & Country Club, near Palma.

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“The end goal was always to try and finish in that top 20, so to have a chance this week is a pretty good achievement and hopefully I can finish it off,” said the quitely-spoken Peebles man.

“It’s been a little bit frustrating lately, to be honest. I’ve not played particularly badly; I just haven’t had those big results you need due to the money dispersion.

“I’ve played okay, having a lot of finishes from top 15 to top 25, but that’s not going to get you anywhere and guys will catch you up eventually.

“I would love to have been safe before the final, but it is definitely in my own hands, which is all I can ask for. If I go out and play well, it is going to be difficult for guys to go past me.”

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Howie, who is managed by Paul Lawrie, smiled when it was pointed out that he is on the verge of becoming a European Tour card holder after playing just 52 events on the feeder circuit.

“I feel like I have served my apprenticeship on the Challenge Tour,” he said. “I feel I have had a lot of lows in my first year or two, when I learned a lot. It’s only 52 events, but I feel like I have been out here for ages and am ready for the next step.

“Holding a European Tour card is something I’ve dreamed of since I was pretty young, so it would be pretty cool to do.”

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Spaniard Santiago Tarrio currently leads the card battle from Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia, with others on course to secure step ups including Marcel Siem.

The German is making his first Challenge Tour appearance since winning in France in July to get into The Open, finishing 15th at Royal St George’s and then focusing on the European Tour.

Among those bidding to climb into the top 20 are rejuvenated Italian Matteo Manassero, who currently sits in 44th position.

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