John Hickey gave his pro career a huge boost this week, finishing top in the stage one qualifier at the Portal Championship golf resort near Chester. Rounds of 66 and 74 saw the Cork Golf Club member finish on -6 on the par 73 layout. Yesterday was a great day for John, he had seven birdies and no bogies to take a lead and give himself a great chance of qualifying for the next stage. Frost delayed the start this morning and challenging weather conditions. Hickey was two voer for the day through six holes, but he was back on level par at the turn. Another few bogies and birdies followed and John signed for a 73 (+1) to finish joint first with Gian-Marco Petrozzi. Conor O’Rourke (Naas) was third, just two behind Hickey after shooting a very impressive 69 today.
Despite the frost and challenging weather Hickey was focused on the task at hand. “I was about halfway through my warm up when I got my text basically when I got there it was just about trying to deal with the conditions the best I could. And try and play the steady golf as possible try not to try and do anything crazy, play lots of pars.
170 golfers will make it through to the final round of Qualifying School at Frilford Heath from 16-18th April 2019, and John is looking forward to returning the to Oxfordshire resort: “I’m looking forward to Frilford. I’ve played one of the courses there and I think it’s very good. In terms of my preparation, I’ve been doing a lot of work on all parts of my game over winter and it’s just the case of continuing that work. Trying to stay as sharp as I can and bring some momentum from this week.” For now it’s back to Little Island for more practice. Every player that enters Qualifying School will become a Member of the Tour for 2019 and will hold a category. The better an entrant performs at Qualifying School the better the Category. This allows any member to enter any tournament during the season regardless of how they perform at Qualifying School. The Qualifying School acts as a way of ranking all of the members which is important when the final field for a tournament is to be decided.