West trio qualify for next European tour

WEST trio David Dixon, Stuart Little and Scott Drummond will be aiming to establish themselves on the multi-million pound European Tour next year.

Gloucestershire left-hander Little, 36, was assured of re-gaining the status he lost the previous year by claiming eighth place on the Challenge Tour.
Somerset’s powerful-hitting Dixon suffered a roller-coaster ride before snatching 15th place at the Tour School in Spain to grab one of the 35 cards on offer.

Devon-based Drummond, 29, who lives in Harrabridge, qualified by taking seventh place on the Challenge Tour. It will be his debut season.

But the west country representation has become smaller. Dorset pair Gary Emerson, the former Salisbury and South Wilts club professional now attached to Broadstone, and Shaun Webster (The Dorset) failed to regain their cards at the Tour School.
Former British Amateur champion Lee James from Bournemouth won the Challenge Tour in 2002 but struggled throughout his rookie season and finished 184th.
His poor form continued and he did not make the Tour School so he is also destined for another year on the subsidiary circuit.

Bristol and Clifton’s Mark Sanders was always in with a chance, but faded to 47th and just failed to get through the finals, while Carl Jessup (Knighton Heath) propped up the field in Spain.
Little, from Minchinhampton, and Dixon join Swindon’s David Howell – the leading west countryman by far – and former Ryder Cup player Gordon Brand jnr from Bristol, who retains his card as one of the 40 leading career money winners.
Dixon, 26, from Enmore Park, was drained when he returned home to Bridgwater from his third successive nerve-jangling visit to the school.
Two superb rounds made it possible for a player who made £63,000 to finish 158th on his debut season on the tour.
Just when he seemed destined to return to the Challenge Tour, an electrifying final round of seven-under-par 65 at Peralada in the second qualifying stage took him into the finals.
That enabled him to join 170 aspiring tour players to compete over six days and 108 holes for the ultimate prizes at Pals and Emporda, near Gerona.
But he just drifted along in the early rounds and was 46th after 72 holes and seemed to be heading nowhere. Then he produced the low return of his career – a sensational ten-under-par 61 in the fifth round at Emporda.
He ranks the round alongside his six-under 66 in the Benson and Hedges International in May that brought him the lead over all the stars of Europe.
He eventually finished tenth that week, but failed to build on that early success and slipped down the money list. He missed all but one halfway cut in his final 15 tournaments.
Dixon, who is a member of Chubby Chandler’s management group alongside Howell, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, said: “It was a real scramble and I don’t want to experience that pressure again.
“I learned so much from my first year on tour, I now feel I am equipped to hold my own. I just need to be more consistent and eliminate the bad rounds.”