Michael Stewart sights set on becoming next Scot to reach DP World Tour
Michael Stewart may have moved into a position to secure a Challenge Tour card next season but an encouraging run of form has left the Ayrshireman setting his sights on the DP World Tour.
Helped by finishing joint-second in last week’s Spey Valley Championship in Aviemore, Stewart sits fourth in the PGA EuroPro Tour Order of Merit, which sees the top five earn promotion to the Challenge Tour.
That would be one of the former Scottish Amateur champion’s goals for the 2022 season ticked off, but there’s also a chance that he could be playing on the DP World Tour instead next year.
Stewart successfully cleared the first hurdle in the circuit’s Qualifying School, which is being held for the first time since 2019, by sharing top spot over 72 holes at The Players Club in Bristol a fortnight ago.
He’s still got to navigate two more stages to be back playing alongside his former Scotland team-mate and good friend David Law, but it is understandable that there’s a distinct tone of excitement in his voice at the moment.
“The good thing about it now is that I’ve got so much to look forward to for the rest of the season,” said Stewart, who also won the Scottish Boys and South African Amateur before turning professional. “Being in the top five on the EuroPro Tour Order of Merit at the moment is a reward for how well I’ve played the last year or so.
“But, with the DP World Tour Q-School now back on, it’s great to know that I don’t just have to finish in the top five on the EuroPro and that’s me achieved my only goal for the season.
“If I could then secure one of those top 25 spots at the Q-School to get on the main tour, how good would that be, especially after not having that chance over the last couple of years?
“There are lots of permutations and, once the EuroPro Tour finishes, the regular Tartan Pro Tour season kicks off again, so I’ve got so much golf to play, which is great.”
In an event cut to 36 holes due to bad weather, Stewart lost out in a play-off at Spey Valley, where the spoils went instead to Irishman Stuart Grehan.
"I missed a short putt on the first play-off hole to win it, which was unfortunate and it was one of the few times in my career that something like that has happened to me,” reflected Stewart, who played on a winning Great Britain & Ireland team in the 2011 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen.
“I was very disappointed when I left. I was actually quite gutted, to be honest, because I felt I had been knocking on the door so many times this year and that was the time to get it done. And to have done in Scotland as well would have been great.
“But Alan McCloskey (his coach) spun it in a positive way, as he’s always good at doing, saying how good it was for me to be in the top five now on the Order of Merit without winning last week.”
Stewart is back in action on home turf this week, when the Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters - the penultimate regular event of the season - takes place at Leven Links, where the action starts on Wednesday.
Englishman Jack South shot a 59 in winning at the Fife course last year, but Stewart doesn’t think a repeat of that is on the cards for either him or anyone else in the field for this edition.
“The golf courses are a bit different this year. They don’t have that £59,000 bonus for shooting a 59, so the courses have been set up, in my opinion, a lot tougher,” he said.
“I never actually played in the Champion of Champions or the Gold Medal as an amateur, so last year was the first time I’d actually played Leven. It’s a good layout and I know it well enough, having also been there since for Tartan Pro Tour events.”
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