Lawrenson: "Rolex riches are thwarting hopes of hitting the big time"

The Daily Mail's Derek Lawrenson points out a troubling trend for the European Tour's ability to develop new talent though its Qualifying School: the Rolex Series may be making tour card retention more difficult.

As the DP World Tour Championship finishes up the European Tour season in Dubai by assembling the top 60 players, Lawrenson points out that only one Qualifying School graduate from last year--Eddie Pepperell--will be at the season ending championship.

In all, a record low of just three players — the others were Englishman Ashley Chesters and 2010 Ryder Cup member Edoardo Molinari — kept their cards for next season from the 30 handed out 12 months ago.

Contrast that to the nine who kept their cards the previous year and the 12 who retained their privileges in 2015.

Why has the success rate plummeted so alarmingly? Ironically, the prime reason is the Rolex Series: eight events that have added wealth and prestige at the top end of the European game but have skewed life horribly for those seeking to make their way who don’t gain access to them.

Lawrenson goes on to look at specific examples of players who graduated, played seemingly well enough to retain a card, and instead are heading back to qualifying school. Including Tom Lewis, who made a run at The Open a few years ago.

The main issue appears to be the divide between purse size in the seven Rolex events versus typical European Tour weeks.