FORMER Hampshire U14s champion Sam Hutsby earned another shot at the big time after safely negotiating the DP World Tour‘s Qualifying School this afternoon,

The Portsmouth-born golfer – who lost to Rickie Fowler in the singles at the 2009 Walker Cup – made it a hat-trick of successful trips to the by regaining a full card in Europe for 2023.

The 34-year-old – attached to Lee-on-the-Solent Golf Club – posted a total of 19-under par to finish in a share of 13th place, with just the top 25 and ties out of the original field of 156 players earning playing privileges for next season.

But it could have been so different if he had not come through a three man-play off at the second stage in Spain earlier this month.

Sam faced elimination after finishing tied for 21st place with four other players, including Freshwater‘s Brandon Robinson-Thompson, who played for Hampshire U18s two years after Hutsby.

Hutsby has loved playing in Spain ever since he claimed the Spanish Amateur Championship as a 17-year-old England junior international, in 2006, beating Edoardo Molinari 7&6 in the final at Sherry GC.

But a crucial birdie earned Hutsby his spot at the final stage of Q-School, which started last Friday, and six more rugged rounds in north east Spain, and has given Hutsby another shot at the big time as he came through all three stages of Q-School – the Hampshire player to do that was Corhampton‘s Scott Gregory in 2018.

Hutsby, who won the Hampshire U14 crown back in 2003 – and lost out on the U18 crown 12 months later, losing a play-off to Jon Watt, at Corhampton – has now successfully come through the marathon ordeal at the DP World Tour‘s Qualifying School for a fourth time in his career.

All of those successes have come at Spanish soil – three of them at PGA de Catalunya, while this week, he safely negotiated the pitfalls at Infinitum in Tarragona, which has been used as the Final Stage venue since 2017.

The 2022 Qualifying School was the first held in three years because of the pandemic, and Hutsby, who has enjoyed a very successful season on the PGA South Region – and won his first Clutch Pro Tour event – quickly set about achieving his goal.

He started the sixth and final round in 20th place, but with little margin for error with just a shot between Sam and another season on the Challenge Tour, Hutsby enjoyed a relatively stress-free time, carding a round of 68 on Infinitum‘s Lakes course.

After a birdie at he first hole, he bogeyed the second and reached the turn in two-under having picked up shots at the eighth and ninth. A three at the 13th got him to 19-under only to drop a shot at the penultimate hole.

But another birdie at the last – his 28th of the weeks – moved him up into 13th and avoiding any risk of a late charge by others bumping him into the last card category. Sam made one eagle on the last hole of the Lakes course in the third round, and only made 11 bogeys in total, avoiding any costly doubles that can do so much damage to momentum at Tour School.

And crucially because he carded a 68 – the best final round score of the six players tied on 19-under, Sam earned the 13th card at Q-School, which gives him a chance of getting more starts in some of next year‘s bigger DP World Tour events.

Sam Hutsby Selborne Salver

Lee-on-the-Solent‘s former England international Sam Hutsby, who played in the 2009 Walker Cup before earning a European Tour card. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

While others‘ frayed their nerves and missed out on the top 25 and the security of a full card, including Italy‘s Renate Paratore – a winner on the European Tour as recently as 2020 – Hutsby can now look forward to starting the 2023 season in South Africa, where he will make his 100th-ever appearance on the DP World Tour.

His first came back in 2006 when as the Spanish Amateur Champion he earned a starting place in that year‘s Spanish Open.

The then diminutive golfer had to convince the host golf club‘s security that he was in fact playing in the event after arriving in – but he quickly earned fans on the range as he rubbed shoulders with Mark Roe, now part of the Sky TV commentary team, and Sweden‘s Robert Karlsson.

Now Hutbsy will be exempt for more than 30 tournaments – apart from the restricted field events such as the Scottish Open, and the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth, the Tour‘s biggest event in September.

Hutsby, who has earned some €457,256 on the main tour over the past 13 years – along with another €226,969 from seven seasons on the Challenge Tour – once shot 63 playing alongside Justin Rose in a practice round for Open Qualifying at Sunningdale, before turning pro after the Walker Cup 13 years ago.

Having quit tour life back in 2018, Sam became a club pro at Lee-on-the-Solent where begain his golf journey as a junior.

As well as teachng the next generationa and passing on all he has learned along the way, Sam started playing on the PGA circuit, both in in Hampshire and across the South Region.

Last year, he won 15 times on the PGA South Region and Hampshire PGA circuit – clocking up more than £13,000 in prize money.

Earlier this summer, he won the Clutch Pro Tour event at Stoneham GC, earning a cool £10,000 but crucially receiving two starts on the Challenge Tour.

Although Hutsby could only finish 104th in the Cazoo Open, which was promoted by Wales World Cup star Gareth Bale, he did finished tied sixth a week later at the Frederikshavn Challenge, in Denmark, earning €9,000.

Three more starts followed in September, culminating in The English Trophy at Frilford Heath, in Oxfordshire, where he was tied for fourth.

Hutsby then finished seventh at the first stage of this year DP World Tour‘s Qualifying School, at France‘s Hardelot GC.

He booked his place in the final stage courtesy of that play-off win against Chile‘s Felipe Aguilar.

Now he can start planning his playing schedule for 2023. After the opening four events in South Africa – and with Australian Open also open to European players, the DP World Tour won‘t reach the UK until late June.

The British Betfred Masters is moving to The Belfry. Hutsby will have a chance to qualify for July‘s Open at Royal Liverpool in July through Final Qualifying now he has a tour card.

The other UK events are the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle, in Northern Ireland, in August.

The BMW PGA is at Wentworth from September 14-17, followed by the Ryder Cup in Rome, two weeks later.

The Tour resumes in Scotland a week later with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – something Hutsby will definitely be looking forward to given his experience of playing St Andrews a number of times as an amateur.


Hampshire Open runners-up Sam Hutsby and Lewis Scott

Sam Hutsby (left), runner-up in the 2021 Hampshire Open, has regained his DP World Tour card after playing on the PGA South region. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

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