Ben’s agony turns to ecstasy

Ben Evans has earned a European Tour card for 2016 after initially appearing to have missed out. Picture courtesy Agathe Seron
Ben Evans has earned a European Tour card for 2016 after initially appearing to have missed out. Picture courtesy Agathe Seron
  • Ben Evans earns European Tour card for 2016
  • Staplecross professional had finished just outside top 110 on Race to Dubai
  • Evans was promoted to the all-important 110th spot after Koepka failed to play enough events
  • 28-year-old came tied 11th in Hong Kong Open at the weekend
  • Evans ended event with a brilliant back nine of 31

Golf star Ben Evans has earned a European Tour card for next season after it initially appeared he had agonisingly missed out on a dramatic weekend.

The Staplecross-based professional came tied 11th in last weekend’s UBS Hong Kong Open to rise to 111th in the season-long Race to Dubai standings - one solitary place outside the all-important top 110.

But Evans’ agony turned to ecstasy overnight with news that Brooks Koepka had withdrawn from the WGC - HSBC Champions and DP World Tour Championship, prompting his removal from the Race to Dubai for not playing the minimum requirement of 13 events.

As a result, all those below world number 12 Koepka shifted up a position, and Evans was elevated to 110th and safety. He will have category 10 membership of the European Tour next year, which means he should be eligible to play in just about every tournament outside of the majors and World Golf Championships events.

Had he been 111th, Evans would have remained in category 16 and had significantly less playing opportunities as a result. Evans played in 21 European Tour events this year, many of them lower profile tournaments, having finished 17th in the second tier European Challenge Tour rankings in 2014.

He wrote on social media site Twitter: “Well @EuropeanTour it’s been a 24hr rollercoaster. Overwhelmed and so happy to be told I’ve moved to 110 on R2D. Can’t wait for 2016! #buzzing”

Evans went into the final full field event of the European Tour season lying 118th and needing a lofty finish to jump into the top 110. He eventually made it thanks to an excellent back nine of 31 in the final round which gave him a nine-under-par total of 271 at Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.

The 28-year-old began the tournament with an eventful one-under-par 69 last Thursday containing six birdies and five bogeys. He birdied three of the first five holes only to bogey four of the next five.

Evans followed that with a one-over-par 71 on Friday. He birdied two of his first three holes, but a subsequent bogey and a double bogey on his penultimate hole meant he ended the day right on the cut mark at level par.

Evans moved up 38 places to tied 23rd after a very good third round 66 on Saturday. Four birdies and two bogeys on the front nine were followed by three birdies in four holes from the 10th and a bogey at the 14th.

He gained a further 12 positions courtesy of a splendid five-under 65 on Sunday. A birdie at the first was offset by a bogey at the second before Evans conjured up five birdies in a scintillating seven-hole burst from the 11th.

The result continued a terrific finish to the season for Evans, who has made the cut in eight of his last nine tournaments and achieved top 20 finishes in four of them.

In all throughout the year, Evans achieved top 20 finishes in nine European Tour events, including top 10s in Russia and Morocco, as well as another top 20 on the second tier European Challenge Tour.

Evans has also moved up to a career best 320th in the Official World Golf Ranking, going above the great Tiger Woods for the first time.