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Wilson looking to save career

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Iain Carter | 12:17 UK time, Monday, 12 November 2012

Embarking on the week that could save his golfing career Oliver Wilson didn't know which way to turn.

Well that's not exactly true. The Englishman knew he would be turning right at the plane door to a seat in economy but the former Ryder Cup star couldn't be sure of the aircraft's destination.

This was his situation only last Saturday. Would it be Hong Kong or South Africa that would provide the last tournament chance to regain his European Tour card?

"So where are you playing?" I asked him.

"Still don't know. Guess that's what happens when you play rubbish," Wilson replied with his familiar cheery grin.

Unusually the final week on the Tour schedule offers two events. The Opens of Hong Kong and South Africa provide a final chance for players needing a top 115 finish on the money list to gain their playing rights for next year.

Wilson is showing signs of emerging from an alarming slump that cost him his card twelve months ago. Two years earlier the Nottinghamshire man had finished seventh on the money list and in 2008 he played for Europe in the Ryder Cup.

Wilson was selected to play for Europe at the 2008 Ryder Cup. Photo: Getty

After a season playing largely courtesy of invitations, he calls this week "the most important of my career" because the opportunity is there to put himself back where he firmly believes he belongs.

"Fortunately I feel like I'm moving in the right direction and I'm not too far away," the 32-year-old said.

"But I've fallen so far down the path that it is a lot harder now to move in the right direction because you need opportunities and they don't always come along that often now."

And this was why it wasn't until last Sunday lunchtime before Wilson knew that his destination would be Hong Kong this week. It took the final shake down in Singapore to determine whether he could squeeze into the field.

Heading East was his preferred option. A top eight finish should be enough to secure his card. In South Africa Wilson would have probably needed fourth place money or better.

"When you are playing well and you are in the big tournaments, earning good money your family is happy and everything is good," he said.

"It is stressful (because you are trying to win) but it doesn't come close to when all of a sudden you are not earning any money and you are spending a lot of money to play in the tournaments.

"People around you get worried; your friends and your family. One of the hardest things is to watch your family because they live it with you. You know, I play the golf, I'm confident and know what I'm doing and I believe in what I'm doing.

"You are constantly picking yourself back up, having to take the positives from every result so you are kind of used to dealing with that.

"When it starts going wrong I think its harder on your family. It's hard to watch that and see the stress that they get under from it because they are wanting you to do so well.

"You can't compare it with the stress of trying to make the Ryder Cup. At the time you would say 'that was really stressful, I'm glad that's all over.'

"But from where I'm looking now I'd say if I hadn't made that Ryder Cup would it have been that big a deal? It would have been a bump along the path but it certainly wouldn't have affected me like this last couple of years."

Having hit such heights and good enough to garner nine runners up cheques Wilson is currently experiencing the flip side of the game.

It is a lifestyle far removed from the pampered existences of those for whom finding the bottom of the cup has been a whole lot easier in recent times.

Wilson was speaking as part of a BBC 5Live special report on the largely unseen side of the professional game that is far removed from the glamorous heights of Rory McIlroy and Co.

The programme will be aired next week while the top sixty on the money list contest the big money season finale DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

At the same time many of the lesser lights will be readying themselves for six rounds at the Tour's qualifying school.

Wilson hopes to earn enough this week to avoid that tortuous process. His decline has been down to a myriad of reasons including a stomach illness that took too long to be diagnosed.

Losing his card at the end of the 2011 season was "a massive blow to the ego". He remains refreshingly positive and is helped by a sense of perspective that means he doesn't lose sight of the privilege of playing golf for a living.

Nevertheless there have been seriously dark days. "One week you miss a cut and it feels like the end of the world's near," he admitted. "Everything's as bad as it can be.

"Quite often on a Sunday night, or a Friday if you've missed the cut, it all hits you. What's going on? Then you get up on a Saturday morning and try to pick yourself back up.

"You know there have been some really down weeks - tears and all sorts. You don't know what's going to happen and you are really worried and that's where its important you have the right people around you."

Wilson has made €132,000 this season from an uncertain schedule that has cost him any chance of creating a strategic timetable to suit his game. It's a far cry from the recent days when he'd earned enough to join the PGA Tour for the 2010 season.

He didn't make the move out of loyalty to the European Tour and a desire to retain his Ryder Cup place.

"I've questioned quite a lot whether I could get back and whether I'd lost my short game or the mental ability to score," Wilson admitted. "But after this year I've realised its all there. It just comes down to fine margins."

And so he heads to Hong Kong, the venue where he played his first European Tour event eight years ago, in the desperate hope that he can revive his career.

"It's going to be a matter of time. Whether it takes two months, six months, six years to get back to where I was I know I will. I'm very impatient and I wish it had happened a year ago but I'll keep positive and moving forward."

There's no more decent or personable player on Tour. Let's hope it is this week.


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  • Comment number 1.

    woo hooo another blog

  • Comment number 2.

    Iain a very good point made,there are plenty of other profesional golfers who only scrape by,either on tour,teaching or in your local pro shop,for every fairytale out there, i would not like to think about the number of nightmares

  • Comment number 3.

    Great topic Iain and a very refereshing read.

    Some people will read he has earnt 135,000 this year but I wonder how much it costs to travel round the world and stay in hotels to compete in these events - all the time whilst being away from his family.

    Well done Rors on achieving what LD did last year and in quicker time.

  • Comment number 4.

    Wilson was never a great player so im left wondering...what career is he "looking to save"?

  • Comment number 5.


    My predictions for this week :

    Hong kong Open

    Rory McIlroy
    Paul Casey
    Padraig Harrington

    Dunlop Phoenix Open

    Luke Donald
    Sang moon Bae
    Nicolas Colsaerts

    South African Open

    Charl Schwartzel
    Brandon Grace
    Martin Kaymer

    Australian Masters

    Adam Scott
    Ian Poulter
    Stuart Appleby

  • Comment number 6.

    I think anyone who plays in the RC would consider themselves to have had a very good career.

    Please accept my apologies in advance if im wrong, but I don't recall Iain writing wilson was a "great" player James......

    does everyone have to be as good as rory mcilroy to be considered to have had a good career in golf?

  • Comment number 7.

    Good blog Iain, partly because it was a bit of an unusual and unexpected topic. John Feinstein tackles this topic in a couple of his books - notably A Good walk Spolied and also Tales from Q School. He makes the comparison there between the pressure trying to win a major and the pressure of trying to save your card, and concludes that the latter is harder in many ways.

    In Ryder cup terms, he'll probably be remembered in the same category as someone like David Gilford as having had had an extremely undistinguished RC career (although Gilford did make a telling contribution in 95). However, in his singles I recall that Wilson lost to Weekley who shot a really low score. WIlson actually played better than a lot of the other Europenas but ran into the USA's form horse.

  • Comment number 8.

    He may be a lovely fellow but am i really supposed to feel sorry for him? He has travelled the world playing this fantastic game on some of the best courses. Has led a pampered life to the most part and has career earnings of 5816505 Euros and nearly $500000. So what if he loses his card and has to go back to qualifying, its not the end of the world. I like thousands of others would gladly swap my life for his.
    Having had a rant i hope he does well this week.

    And as the RC was mentioned again.
    Mr Bear Hahahahahahahaha

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Oh Dear James you are a silly so & so sometimes ..... perhaps we should have scrapped the ranking systems and RC qualification rules just so you could have players in that you liked at #1 or in the European Team. If you qualify for the RC on merit or reach #1 ON MERIT then so be it ..... shut up and get over it. Just because some of your faves haven't reached these pinnacles probably means they're not good enough to do so. Simples ...

  • Comment number 12.

    8 WCIHIS, an uncharacteristically harsh view there?

    I could definitely agree if you were talking about one of the top 10 or 20 or even 50 or so in the world who have big earnings and big sponsorships deals. If one of them was moaning about some minor inconvenience (can't think of an example) then fair enough.

    But I think it must be pretty tough for the likes of Wilson. On the face of it, yes he's playing golf and having fun, wouldn't we all love to do that for a living? But maybe golf isn't fun when you're not playing well, your expenses outweigh your earnings, and you feel you can't support your family etc etc. The pressure is bound to get to you and make things worse. Personally I do have sympathy for him

  • Comment number 13.

    One thing Feinstein points out is that, whilst there are dozens of 'Oliver Wilsons' trying to make cuts, get their cards and make a living, John Daly was getting sponsors invites, getting appearance fees yet still walking off mid round, getting DQ's on purpose and generally abusing his privileged position as an ex major winner and crowd puller.

  • Comment number 14.

    hahahaha Pierre that's one of THE best comments I've heard yet on JM's trolling! And yorkshire_blogster you are not wrong on that! What did he write guys as I've just missed it clearly...

  • Comment number 15.

    typical james matthew drivel

    by all means dont feel sorry for him like WCIHIS has and backed his reasons up

    but JM says things to provoke instead of a proper contribution to the blog based on some kind of reasoning

    I ahve to say I agree with BMG - I do a lot of travelling in the UK on sales and I hate being away from home - ok I maybe wouldn't dislike it as much if I was golfing, but by the same token if I play c**p on a saturday im in a right old mood - so god knows what I would be like out in the middle of nowhere

    and its not just the "pressure" of golf as Iain says, its the pressure of trying to provide for your family.

    im not saying i necessarily feel sorry for the bloke, but if you think last weeks blog and all the negativity surrounding TW and Rors deciding to do a money spinner instead of a tournament, it reflects upon the whole tour, when in fact a lot of the boyrs ranked 100-200 really do struggle to try and make their way on tour.....even with 135,000 a year earnings

  • Comment number 16.

    @14 He was babbling on about Oliver Wilson making the RC team by exploiting 'loopholes' and Lee Westwood making #1 ranking by doing the same thing. James' obviously meant 'loopholes' by playing well in a number of the scheduled tournaments in order to qualify - pesky manipulative tricksters these Nottinghamshire Golfers heh, who would have thunk it that you could actually qualify for the RC European Team or make #1 spot in the World by consistently playing well? When as we all know James these achievements should be decided purely on the quality of each players' interview techniques with those nice people off the telly ........ not sure why he was moderated though unless stupidity has recently become part of the criteria?

  • Comment number 17.

    BMG, i didnt mean to come over harsh but was just pointing out that he has earned over 6 million in the last 8 years and had a golden 4 years where most of the money came from. He is hardly on poor street. I have worked for 40 years and his career earnings would be the equivalent of me earning about 162000 a year. I wish.

  • Comment number 18.

    It'd take a heart of stone not to have some sympathy with Ollie Wilson's plight, but I do get WCIHIS's point- if you want to do something about it, then playing better golf is usually a good solution!

    The sad reality is that there is only so many places at the top table, and at this level it can be a very cut-throat existence. For instance, the PGA Tour season concluded last weekend at Disney World (congrats to Charlie Beljian, BTW). For next year, there'll be something like 180 golfers who have full playing priveldges on tour next year. That's all, 180. I imagaine the sitaution in Europe isn't much diffierent, and that for many a succesful season means keeping their Tour Card for another year. But that's life, and if there wasn't an effective promotion-relegation system in professional golf then no newcomers would ever emerge. For every Ollie Wilson who fades from obscurity, there's a Rory McIlroy who grasps the opportunity with both hands. Speaking of whom....

    A hearty congratulations to young Rors for picking the European Order of Merit title to go with his PGA Championship win, topping the PGA Tour Money list, and being the #1 golfer in the world by a comfortable distance. God knows what would happen if he could keep the occasional brain-fart out of his game, as he would probabaly have to find a different world to rule.

    Oh, and Iain- is every blof between now and 2014 going to have the Ryder Cup mentioned in it somehwere?

  • Comment number 19.

    interesting article, highlights the money that can be made playing golf. This relative journeyman is still a millionare from playng a game so i feel that I can only have so much sympathy for him.Afterall he has made 130k + in his worst year so he's not going to starve!

  • Comment number 20.


    If you could hit the ball straight maybe you could earn yourself 162000 a year on the senior tour !!!!! and have dbf as you caddy and cfcboy as your chaeuffer,bmg as your autobiographer and JM as your whipping boy

  • Comment number 21.

    WCIHIS - you've certainly got a point, no question about that. In many ways you're completely right. He has so much to be grateful for. Of course he has earned more money than most of us, and I agree that on that level maybe he doesn't deserve sympathy

    But it's not just about the money. I feel sorry for him because he is trying his best to be good at his job and it's not happening. That gonna hurt your pride no matter who you are, and I bet it's a downward spiral too.

    Whats more, his 'job' is much harsher than ours in otehr ways. It's an over-simplification, but he has to beat half the field to make any money. Then if he can't do that consistenly, he faces missing his card.

    It's almost like us having to go into work, out-perform at least half the staff or not get paid. Then if we dont' make the top 15% or whatever at the end of the year, we have to re-apply for our job!

  • Comment number 22.


    I forgot to add,if you've been working for 40 years,what were you doing the other 40 ?

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm never particularly impressed by the argument that someone shouldn't receive sympathy because they have xxx ammount of money. I think the debate is never as simple as that. But having read through the blog it doesnt ask for or seek out your sympathy. Its intention, it seems to be is to illustrate a side to Professional Golf that we dont usually see.

    No picks required for the Dunlop by the way guys. I will belatedly update predictions tonight for those who care

    From my stand point, I dont feel sorry for Oliver Wilson, that would be patronising, however i do have sympathy for what he any others on the bubble are going through this week and went through last week. I would also love to be good enough at golf to be in that situation myself.

  • Comment number 24.

    Did somebody just mention the Ryder Cup ?

    Golden Bear Hahahahahahaha

    Are you not coming out to play for another couple of years.

  • Comment number 25.

    @23 TRJ

    can't your superdooper spreadsheet calculate four tournaments,as i believe it would be worth adding just to put some pressure on daveyboy at the top of the standings,and it would create more work for you which i'm sure BMG would most enjoy :-)

  • Comment number 26.

    @21 - A shining and illuminating post there BMG, I pretty much agree with it in its entirity.

    Also i appear to have somehow got my 2nd and 3rd paragraphs the wrong way round in my last post. I wish there was a way to edit after posting.

  • Comment number 27.


    P.s I've already picked for the Dunlop and rules 2 states that rule 1 is right and there's only so many times you can tell someone to b***er off so the Phoenix Open is in

  • Comment number 28.

    @25 - Its been Euro and PGA tour events only all season. We cant go changing the rules just to try and make it more interesting. This isnt the Fed-Ex prediction league

  • Comment number 29.

    Interesting point Ross1980 (post 18) that there is a very small top table, as in many sports I guess. It's really a case of small margins making a huge difference. Since 2008, Oliver he has gone from Ryder Cup player with big potential to struggling journeyman. He was potentially in teh same league (admittedly not quite) as Rose and Poulter. Since then he has gone South and they have risen to star status.

    Another point re the money, as Y_B says in point 3, his expenses must have been massive in this time too. Not only that, but if you earned a few hundred grand at the age of 27 or so then you;d probably spend a fair amount of it too. I doubt that he lived on 20 grand a year and wisely invested the rest (although maybe now he wishes he had done)

  • Comment number 30.

    Mania should be forced to donate 10 points to BMG for daring to question the leaguemeister.

  • Comment number 31.

    It is a tough life out on tour as a journeyman pro, tough as a golfer, but not what we would think is tough.

    Michael Campbell is a very good example of this as well.

    Paul Lawrie and Lee Westwood were both flying high and then hit the bottom and then have gone back up again.

    There are very narrow margins in golf nowadays and so many good players about, that making a cut most weeks is an achievement.

    Look at Tom Lewis, he's really struggling and lots of people thought he was going to do a McIlroy.

    It's very character building for these guys, but golf and sport in general is littered with successful people who have fallen away - look at Michael Branch.

  • Comment number 32.

    Touche TRJ, nice post 23. By the way, what events are we predicting for. I have the smell of blood in my nostrils! Wibbly blood!

    TRJ, re you remark:

    "From my stand point, I dont feel sorry for Oliver Wilson, that would be patronising, however i do have sympathy for what he any others on the bubble are going through this week "

    I agree but think its really a matter of semantics. I don't 'feel sorry' for him as such. Maybe a better way to put it is that I don't envy him.

    This won't bear close examniation, but I tried to qualify for a pretty big tournament over here a few months ago and had been playing well leading up to it. On the day I scored badly (without playing terribly) and eventually missed out quite narrowly. I didn't feel I'd played that badly and was really fed up. Imagine if that happens (multiplied by 10) every other week and it's your livelihood?

  • Comment number 33.

    "30.At 12:16 13th Nov 2012, WCIHIS wrote:
    Mania should be forced to donate 10 points to BMG for daring to question the leaguemeister"

    I agree wholeheartedly. And having made that comment 22, he should also learn to sleep with one eye open

  • Comment number 34.

    @32 - Yes it is an issue of semantics and two people could express the same semtiment in different ways and be interpreted differently. I've given in my best stab, hope its coherant enought that most people can make some kind of sense of it.

  • Comment number 35.

    nice blog and good to not write about eldrick for a change!

    Oliver Wilson seems like a genuinely nice bloke for a golfer and it's probably got a bit to do with him originating from north of Watford but don't feel sorry for him or ANYONE for that matter who get to chase a ball round a field for cash including the people who kick it and I'm not referring to people from the sub continent who haven't fully grasped the rules yet. Anyone with a rational mind who works in an office, factory or otherwise would give their right arm to be in his shoes!

  • Comment number 36.


    My predictions for this week :

    Dunlop Phoenix Open
    (in case u change your mind and I personally think you should, may as well make the last few weeks interesting!)

    Luke Donald
    Thor Olesen
    Nico Colsaerts

    Hong Kong Open

    Rory McIlroy
    David Howell
    Padraig Harrington

    South African Open

    Charl Schwartzel
    Henrik Stenson
    Martin Kaymer

    Australian Masters

    Adam Scott
    Graeme McDowell
    Ian Poulter

  • Comment number 37.

    Nice article, Iain.
    It begs quite a few "supplementary" questions, the biggest of which is:
    If his play was debilitated by a stomach problem, why didn't he stop trying to play through it and take a medical exemption?
    We've seen too many golfers try to play their way back to form and fitness but it seldom works, Paul Casey and Mike Weir just two comparitively recent examples.
    Good luck to Oliver Wilson.

  • Comment number 38.

    @16 Pierre I wonder if they have finally banned/blocked him (JM)...

    I really did think the other night while reading some of his drivel that the jokes many make about it being "past his bedtime" may just prove to be true as he does display all the logical reasoning of a 12 year old, albeit with appalling spelling and grammar! Of course maybe this is just symptomatic of the general decline in the three Rs we keep hearing about!

  • Comment number 39.

    Phew I had to talk to admin to get my chatting back.
    Anyways...back to topic...Wilsen is a nice guy and a solid challenge tour player but he never really was a good tour player. I would love to see him make it back to the full time tour and continue to make a nice living for being average at a sport.

  • Comment number 40.

    @35 If someone gave their right arm, I don't think they would do very well as a professional golfer.

  • Comment number 41.

    @40 Quality - just made me spit my egg roll out!

  • Comment number 42.

    Dont think anyone can have much sympathy for a guy who was at best,a very average golfer, but who has made a small fortune from the game. The European tour in general produces average players so all our best Mcilroy, Donald, Westwood etc mainly play on the USPA tour were they can compete against the very best. The likes of Tom Lewis(again very, very average) etc would be lost on that tour, and would soon be out with the have-beens!!

  • Comment number 43.

    Interesting topic Ian not what I guess the readers expected. Have to say that yes Wilson hit the heights of the Ryder cup and got there on merit via the qualifying process but you have to question how someone who never won an event got there in the first place.
    He seems a likeable guy but if you don't perform you pay the price, more talented players than him have slid out of the game so after earning £132,000 pound this year for his troubles I have only one thought if your not good enough your not good enough. Sentiment is irrelevant these guys travel the world play a game they enjoy and earn vast sums of money.

  • Comment number 44.

    Well done Rory on winning both money lists so much for it being a one off last year though, but still a great achievement.

  • Comment number 45.

    The Oliver Wilson story rings true for many aspiring pros, carry on with your education. A young lad is working on our pro shop (2 handicap), but is now studing for his A levels at night school as he now realises at 19 he wil not make the European Tour grade. Being a scratch golfer at 17 is a world away from Rory or Ricky Folwer who at the same age were plus 6 (-6 handicap) and could complete with the pros.

  • Comment number 46.

    @40 you're clearly an insightful individual and I would suspect someone who possesses a superior level of intellect next to most mere mortals. Are you a member of the labour party by any chance?

  • Comment number 47.

    When Rors was playing Walker Cup at RCD, he was partnered in the foursomes/balls by Jonny Caldwell who at the time was playing off +5 and played at a course just down the road from Holywood. Another year down the road and Jonny has bailed out at Q-school stage 2. How different it all turned out for the 2 of them.

    My cousin won the British Amateur but still ended up visiting the tour school 6 times before hitting the big time on a regular basis. Having been at many tour schools, it's the guys there that you should be feeling sorry for, not someone who has won 5million Euros and has had his time in the sun.

    As for the lower tier tours. Europro ...need to finish top 5 each week to break even/make a few bob and more chance of winning more by playing your local regional pro-ams against mars bar sellers. Also, most are played on glorified municipals that pay for the honour of getting their name out there. Finish the season towards the top and you get to play in the Challenge tour ....yeah a few random tournaments that nobody else wants to play in! Venezuela ir Colombia in January anybody?

    Challenge Tour ... 65k needed this year to get to play with the big boys (ok, so you get to play in some of the big boy tournaments but you'll be playing week in week out with other nobodys for the first two rounds, in the part of the draw the public won't care about). 20+ tournaments all over the world, what do you think the expenses are? how much of the 65k is left at the end? Just as well there are some very kind benefactors still out there!

  • Comment number 48.

    Exactly @shawso he should be thankful that he plays such a richly sponsored sport. He at best an average player and if on a bad year be earns £140k well boo hoo the poor guy. I wonder how he will survive considering he prob got another 100k sponsorship on top of that. The poor lad...cry me a river!

  • Comment number 49.

    @ TheRealJimmy. Picks for the events this week are as follows.
    Ian Poulter
    Adan Scott
    Richard Green

    Hong Kong
    Rory McIlroy
    Paul Casey
    YE Yang

    Charl Swartzel
    Bradon Grace
    George Coetzee.

    If you deceide to do the Japanes one.... Colsearts, Donald and Stadler.

  • Comment number 50.

    There is a good point being made here which is that it is a cut-throat business out there. But then again, is that much different from our humdrum lives? Oliver Wilson has earned 132,000 yoyos this year and another 32k on the challenge tour. Then there will be sponsorship, free clothing, free clubs, free practice balls, free playing balls, free physio while on tour, etc., etc.
    His wife & kiddies are probably well kitted out in suitably logo'd clothing and his car is probably provided by some major dealership.
    It's hardly slumming it - is it?
    When he won a cool half million at the BMW in 2008 he will hopefully have paid off his mortgage if he still had one by that stage. The endorsements he received from the Ryder Cup would also have been worth enough to buy another house with.
    It's a risk you take when you go down this route. Same applies to others, too. I know a first class journalist who has published one book but it hasn't made him rich. Getting that second lucrative publishing deal hasn't proven easy either - even if he could be persuaded to start writing again.
    I walked out of an exceedingly well paid job because the stress of it was too much and no-one feels sorry for me. (I'm not bitter and twisted, honest!)

    I've more sympathy with the guys who get on the tour with reduced playing rights and struggle to make a living then find themselves back at Q-school the very next year. That can't be good for anyone but they know the risks when they start out. Good luck to those that make it and pity help the ones that don't.

  • Comment number 51.

    #50- Trev, I think you've hit the nail on the head there in your last para.

    The new Q-school grads on the PGA Tour get pathetically low 'status'- I assume the same hold true on teh European Tour. It must be really dishartening for a newcomer to see Tournament Directors/Sponsors on both sides of the Atalntic dish out invites to the likes of Daly only to see them take the provebial, when they're trying to scrape by just to keep that hard-earned tour card. The number of no-marks who got an invite the BMW Shanghai shindig who had no business being there was scandalous! One thing about the likes of Ollie Wilson, Nick Dougherty (to a lesser extend Paul Casey as his career hasn't quite plummeted to their depths and does seem to be slowly taking a turn for the better) etc is that you can't say they never had a chance to esteblish themselves. They got their Major invites, their free-passes in WGC evemnts etc and dropped the ball. Their bad. Unless a tour newbie does a McIlroy and really hits the ground running, he might find hismelf very little opportunity to further his casue against those furtehr up the ladder and find a quick return to Q-school is in the offing. They are the ones I feel really sorry for.

  • Comment number 52.

    42. At 13:57 13th Nov 2012, shawso wrote:

    "The European tour in general produces average players..."

    Are you sure you are not JM in disguise?

    This is hardly the case if you look at the evidence of recent major winners, Ryder Cup victories, WGC winners, World Rankings from the past 5, 6, 7 years, a range of quality players including a number of talented exciting up and coming newcomers allied to improving thirtysomethings (Peter Hanson, Jamie Donaldson etc) plus our established stars, which the Tour can boast etc.

    Arguably I'd say the European Tour produces a greater range of talent than the PGA Tour. OWGR points may be greater on the PGA Tour but I'm not totally convinced this situation is as justifiable as it seems. You cannot help feeling that the situation is strongly skewed in the PGA Tour players' favour, with 3/4 Majors, 3/4 WGCs and the majority of the big money tournaments played over there, meaning non-Americans have to go and effectively play away from home AND undertake regular long-haul travel with all the toll on practice and body clock that can enact. Of course US golfers do not have to do this.

    Further how often to the leading American ("Internationals" do travel regularly) players test themselves by playing overseas outside of the Open and the likes of the HSBC Champions and then actually go on to win. Not that many if you look at previous years' stats!

  • Comment number 53.

    The Lion....firstly he is not I and I is not he we are different people.

    and secondly...he said the "European Tour"...not lets look at the world rankings...Rory (us tour), Luke (us tour), Lee (us tour), Rose (us tour), Poulter (us tour)...and tell me how many european tour members have won majors in the last 10 years? Not many my son...not many.

    So quit being so sensitive and face the facts...the European tour is a glorified Q-school.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think that purely boiling it down to money is kinda missing the point. There is more to it that that. At the age of 27, 28 when he had made the Ryder Cup team, challenged in a number of events (9 2nd place finishes?) I imagine that Wilson would've been hoping to move on from that to bigger and better things.

    I'll bet that at the start of the 2009 season, having played Ryder Cup the plan would've been to take that breakthrough victory, climb up the world rankings, start competing in majors, take the career trajectory that some of his 2008 team mates did.

    Talking of financial security is fine (We are all presuming that he is secure but its only a presumption) but the intangibles are another thing. Having something within your grasp and seeing it slowly fritter away, seeing your ambition change from winning events, to making cuts, to gaining entry to events. To see your golf game (which is essentially your livelyhood) disappear and not return despite hours, weeks and months of hard work. That must be difficult to take.

    The above doesnt mean i'm saying we should all weep for Wilson. I'm just trying to emphasise that simply saying that because he's OK because he's earned plenty of money isnt really the whole story.

  • Comment number 55.


    These so called "up and coming players" you talk about Lion are pretty average European tour players, and would struggle on the world stage. I will accept Hanson is good but no world beater either! As for Jamie Donaldson?? Come on! He is typical of the average golfers we are producing!

  • Comment number 56.

    I feel sorry for his ambitions going down the drain, but nearly 6m euros plus sponsorship means he should be okay. In the famous words of one of my successful friends - 'once you get to 6m you don't have to worry again'

  • Comment number 57.

    #54 TRJ - I'd have to argue that it is the point really. My first million didn't come as quickly as I'd have liked which left me working for much longer than anticipated. I do enjoy what I'm doing now but there are other priorities and things that I'd much rather spend time on.

    I saw part of a programme recently which showed how new members of the LPGA are inducted and all the advice and training they get. One aspect that is covered very seriously is how to manage the cash because this isn't a lifetime guaranteed income.

    A tour pro has no idea how long s/he will have at the top level. Casey could well have blown it when he was snowboarding at the start of this year and I doubt anyone would have any given him much sympathy if he had. You have to take the chance while its within your grasp. Wilson still has an opportunity and will certainly still get sponsor invites if he doesn't get his card but can anyone remember who finished 116-120 on the money list last year? I know a guy who went to Q-school several years on the trot and he is now back on the amatuer circuit because it didn't work out. He has regrets but knows he gave it his best shot and lives with that.

  • Comment number 58.


    Hanson no world beater?? He just won the BMW Masters in China against McIlroy, Donald, Westwood, Poulter, Oosthuizen, Rose, Kaymer, McDowell......
    Unassuming, humble players can be world beaters too....

  • Comment number 59.

    I don't think Oliver is looking for any sympathy, (in fact I know he's not and I referred to his sense of privilege at being a pro golfer in the blog) but his story illustrates a side of the game that few people see. The notion that playing golf for your career must be a dream is understandable, but for many players it is a tough and potentially soul destroying grind. At his best he was certainly more than an "average" player. You don't make the top fifty in the world in any walk of life without excelling and to lose that ability for whatever reason is very hard to endure. Also when you are financing a year's golf travel with caddies fees etc to come out of your winnings, €132,000 is the not the king's ransom that some have made out in their comments.

  • Comment number 60.

    57 - If you base your happiness purely on money, then fair enough. I doubt any ambitious tour player does though.

  • Comment number 61.

    @59 And don't forget HMRC will be taking a large slice of that too...

  • Comment number 62.

    James Matthew - shame the BBC have such a lenient Admin dep't but there we go

    I would like you James, and the other sign in names you are using, to define "average", then look upon your own career in your chosen (or perhaps not chosen) field and wonder if you would like to be branded that way.

    @ Jimmy #54 sums up my feelings on the matter.

  • Comment number 63.

    @ Iain #59

    Can you give us an idea how much it costs a touring pro every year in travel and expenses

  • Comment number 64.

    'and secondly...he said the "European Tour"...not lets look at the world rankings...Rory (us tour), Luke (us tour), Lee (us tour), Rose (us tour), Poulter (us tour)...and tell me how many european tour members have won majors in the last 10 years? Not many my son...not many.'

    The only reason these players go and pay on the PGA tour is due to the increased prize money available.
    They are still European golfers, and just because they play on the PGA tour does not make them great players.

    Talented Europeans who have made a nice living on the US tour, but not great ones.
    Martin Laird
    Brian Davies
    Kenneth Ferrie

    A selection of US players with over $1 million earnings 2012
    Brian Harmann
    John Merrick
    George McNeill
    Daniel Summerhays
    Chris Kirk
    Dicky Pride

    With respect to these guys I would not rate them any higher than our European tour players 150-50 2012.

    Conclusion, your comments are inaccurate and show a gross misunderstanding the sport of golf.

  • Comment number 65.

    @yorkshire_blogster Fortunately for me I do excel at my own profession and make quite a lot more then the "average" golfer...however if my company hit a dip year I would not cry about it and look for hand outs like Wilson is doing now. I would man up and work hard to make sure the following year was successful.

  • Comment number 66.

    well at least you excel at something.

  • Comment number 67.

    Ian good to see you come back, I suppose ollie Wilson is not looking for sympathy. I guess as arm chair fans we don't see all the costs etc involved and purely believe the romantic notion that these guys travel the world first class and live the dream.
    To some degree this is true and one good season can make a player a lottery winnings worth of money.
    Financially ollie is probably well set for life, but he must feel that his career did not pan out as expected.
    Funnily enough he did some tv work with another player in the same boat David howel who was a Ryder cup player and seemed destined for a big career then he got injured and has struggled since. Also like ollie he has started to show signs of recovery this year.
    For any top sports person one injury or loss of form can totally change a career.

  • Comment number 68.

    Tom Lewis I must say was the biggest disappointment in the last few decades.
    Dubbed "the next McIlroy" after his great British open event...and since then he has won 1 nobody event and nothing else. Some people cant hack the big time but he will make a great club professional.

  • Comment number 69.

    James Tom Lewis is still but a boy and has time on his side, Rory took a bit of time to settle into tour life and look at justin rose missed something like 15 cuts once he turned pro so don't dismiss him yet.
    Matteo Mannesero alledgedly not long enough off the tee to compete just won in a play off against king Louis on a par 5 where Louis should have been the favourite. So much for not having the long game.

  • Comment number 70.

    Predictions jimmy

    Hong Kong Rory. Simon dyson. Paul casey

    Sa Charl shwartzel, Brandon grace, Garth mulroy.

    Aussie poulter Scott and g mac

  • Comment number 71.

    Good blog Iain...But at least Wilson has tasted the glory, and should thank his lucky stars for that...Afterall, he wasn't afraid to try..... And anyhow, a former world #1, said "golf is 90 per-cent disappointment"...

    I once watched a young lad called David Higgins, beat Harrington twice, over a 2 week period. Harrington, went on to bigger and better things.....The young pretender Higgins had setback after setback, and became a hard luck story.

    How about Duval, the worlds number one golfer? His social anxiety disorder, and shyness, is a tragic tale....And a quirky comparison, the latest USA winner, Charlie Beljan, he had a dreadful panic attack during the 2nd round, and was taken to the hospital on a stretcher...

    I remember reading about a golfer named Chih-Bing Lam, who took a swinging driver full in the eye....and for 15 seconds thought he was blinded....and his career was immediately finished. Fate, had other plans though for Lam.

    Mr Wilson would do well to remember, there are far worse things in life....

  • Comment number 72.

    I really wish him all the best and I hope that he's able to retain his Tour Card. and

  • Comment number 73.

    Daveyboy 226
    8 for 6 for 1 179
    Cfcboy23 173
    Maninasuitcase 172
    Jimmy 172
    Golfrants 165
    Gbell 161
    Mattefc 159
    Wibbliouswobblious 115
    BMG 107
    Yorkshire Blogster 86
    Whycantihititstraight 70
    Sumo82 65
    2IK 55
    Golden Bear 49
    The Lion 37
    Addictedtogolf 13
    Trevthetrainer 5

    About bloody time too.....

  • Comment number 74.

    JM your point about European Tour players and majors wasn't very well constructed. Where did all those players you mentioned come from earlier in their careers, and what tour do they still play as half or more of their year? You are also suggesting they all play US Tour only, which is not correct, and further you are asking how many European Tour players have won majors in the last ten years while listing (British) players who play on both tours but who you say are US Tour only and yet who have not won majors. Surely that defeats the point in itself.

    And then when we look at the facts you find the following European Tour members, all of whom originated on the European Tour, have won majors in the last 6 years:

    Rory McIlroy 2
    Ernie Els 1
    Charl Schwartzel 1
    Darren Clarke 1
    Martin Kaymer 1
    Louis Oosthuizen 1
    Graeme McDowell 1
    Pádraig Harrington 3
    Ángel Cabrera 2

    TOTAL 13/last 24 majors

    Full dets:

    Many of them now participate on both tours but the majority were mainly based on the European Tour when they started winning majors.
    Oh and I'm hardly being sensitive, I'm just quoting facts....

    I'd also dispute the "Q-school" notion. There are a variety of reasons why the best in Europe play in the US, particularly the financial aspect and the fact that the leading US players tend to be borderline xenophobic and incapable of expanding their horizons and playing abroad regularly. It's also down to where all the sponsorship money is for big tournaments at the moment. However there have been a number of articles in recent weeks about big name US players, Tiger in particular, playing more on the European Tour. Now imagine if this does happen and they find the high standards a challenge, allied to the increased exposure of their brand to Asian fans, the balance could start to tip back in the ET's favour again...

  • Comment number 75.

    Mark - SPOT ON! You just could not have articulated that better!

    DBF - totally in agreement with your points on Tom Lewis who is most a definitely talented, far from average player who is just having what is called "a bad season" and Manassero who is a shortish hitter yes but can compete with quality iron shots and an excellent short game, which is what is required to win majors...he also has plenty of time to grow/fill out/hit the gym to add strength...

    eagerbeaver - Good point about Hanson. He is clearly a player who is improving, a late developer and for my money right now is the Swede most likely to win a major, notwithstanding Henrik Stenson's slow rise back to the top, the improvement of Alex Noren, Carl Pettersson and Jonas Blixt, not forgetting Robert Karlsson who you hope will get back to his 2008 Order of Merit-winning heyday!

  • Comment number 76.

    @71 David has made it through to the final of Q-school this year. Has cleaned up on the local Irish pro-am scene these last few years. Easy money, few outgoings, topped up by a few invitations to Europro/Challenge/European Tour ...and hopefully a card for next year with 6 more good rounds.

  • Comment number 77.

    realjimmy picks are:-

    HK - Mcilroy;Kuchar;Paul Lawrie
    SA - Kaymer; H Stenson; C Schwartzel
    AU - A Scott; Poulter; Appleby

  • Comment number 78.

    For more classic comments about the state of European golf by JM try this. Prior to the Ryder Cup at 21st Aug 2012, jamesmathew wrote:

    Harrington will be a wildcard no doubt. 3 time major winner, 3 great finishes in majors this year. Great ryder cup record. Boom...the man has it all. Poulter has done nothing all year except 9 good holes before the wheels fell off. He does not deserve to be picked on that one 9 hole performance……..Poulter never plays well in USA which is where the RyderCup is on. He has ONE win in the US from a 20 year career and ONE top 10 finish in a major in the US.

    He's an average European player thats about it.

  • Comment number 79.

    followed by......At 7th Nov 2012, jamesmathew wrote:

    All I know is...Poulter will win a major next year! Id put my house on it. In fact I just might.

  • Comment number 80.

    @78/79.....Try, attention seeker;Troll;WUM;(fill the blank......................). Just a shame the library's closed now, as we may have got a response!!!

  • Comment number 81.

    @ the lion our friend really just sometimes lol says some daft stuff, to mention Tom Lewis and decades together says it all.
    As for Mannesero to have won three tournaments in his teens is some achievement. He is definitely the real deal and will push on and win big tournaments.
    The one thing I found odd was the continual playing of the same hole. Normally they mix it up a bit. Surprised that no one has had a dig about Louis not closing the deal ( we know who you are) but once he missed the putt it was inevitable that next time down Matteo would win it.
    Matt tiger just missed out on the PGA stroke average by .2 of stroke but apparently he was discounted as he retired from a tournament.

  • Comment number 82.

    Turn right to economy! More slack BBC nonsense I fear. Mr Wilson has career earnings of $7,164,022!

  • Comment number 83.

    Thanks for the update wdyw..
    Memories of 'take your partners please' for 'the siege of Ennis'..... playing '25'....peat fires, and hot toddies, come flooding back...

    Just out of curiosity, did any regulars hear the disgraceful rant by the US College Coach, on 'Deadspin', to his golfing students...How that type of language is suppose to "motivate" beyond me?

  • Comment number 84.

    @81..Dave..You're right, when he "drove" away from The Blue Monster wasn't It? Still, exceptional season really, given he was written off by many people! Big season next year for him.

  • Comment number 85.

    Turned pro in 2003, career earnings in excess of SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS. Average annual income over the past ten years = $700,000

    Oh, my heart just BLEEDS for him.

  • Comment number 86.

    "There's no more decent or personable player on Tour" - How well do you know all the other players?

  • Comment number 87.

    HK: McIlroy, Kuchar, Manassero
    SA: JBe Kruger, George Coetzee, Branden Grace
    Aus: Adam Scott, Ian Poulter, Graeme Mc Dowell - can only see a couple of other players in the field that I have heard of and would kick myself for taking a risk when I'm about to pass Wibbly!

  • Comment number 88.

    Hey bmg are you going to visit the sa open.

  • Comment number 89.

    Morning DBF. No Iwon't be this year. It's in Gauteng which is somewhere I try to avoid going to. There is a tournament in Cape Town at Royal Cape soon though and I might try and go to that. Wonder if the entry list has closed yet actually ...

  • Comment number 90.

    In fact its from 22-25 Nov so will almost definitely try and get time off to go

  • Comment number 91.

    #74 The Lion that post makes no sense. Just because these guys (major winners) are from Europe and started in Europe doesn't mean that the European tour made them the golfers they are today. In most cases they improved immensely once they moved to the US as the standard of golf is much higher and it made it up their game. It was the fact they played in the US that made them major winners.

    Lets take Lee W for example...major less...but a juggernaut on the European tour...lets see how well he does in the US. This will show us exactly the difference between the 2 tours.
    When Lee goes all of 2013 WITHOUT a US PGA tour win and drops to 10 in the world...then you will have to admit that the standard between the tours differ immensely.
    He was a big fish on a lesser tour...but now he will be swollowed up.

  • Comment number 92.

    Do ranking points not come in to it? are they equal for PGA and Euro tour events on a week by week basis?

  • Comment number 93.

    92. No, the WR points is based on the strength of the field. If the top guys in the world are not playing then it diminishes the WC points greatly.

  • Comment number 94.

    so in effect what happens is everyone goes to america to chase the money, so their events gather more WC more people go to america because the WC points are higher......vicious circle

    now granted this will make the US tour stronger because all the "better players" are there - but what is also does is means the "average" golfers on the PGA get better WC points than the "average" players on the Euro Tour

    to save the Euro Tour - they should make all WC points equal for each event, so the only differential is money

    this will mean we will be able to see who chases money in america and who doesnt and it will also make the European tour stronger

  • Comment number 95.

    #94 "to save the Euro Tour - they should make all WC points equal for each event, so the only differential is money"

    If this was done then we would have another LW being number 1 in the world scenario. Someone like Lee could stay in Europe and win 3-4 events a year and become world number one and then when it came to majors never be in contention.

    If you were to make all events equal WC points wise you may as well scrap the whole thing because it would completely inaccurate and you would never have a real number one like we have now with McIlroy!

  • Comment number 96.

    I disagree

    It would mean the Euro tour events would be worth more to the better players - admittedly at first it might mean some lesser players climbing up the world rankings, but it would only annoy people who care who the #1 is, if they weren't good enough they would never win majors or WGC events so why would it matter?

    Then if more high profile players started returning to europe the sponsors would be more interested and the prize pots would increase and we would have a european tour that could compete on all fronts

    instead of PGA tour having more money, more WC points and a hunting ground for people who want to chase a quick buck

  • Comment number 97.


    Just looking at the prediction league table and have noticed that "I only speak facts" isn't on the leaderboard,is this due to his awful picks or have you banned him for being under age

  • Comment number 98.

    bmg are you still up

  • Comment number 99.

    would like to hear from Don247

  • Comment number 100.

    on his thoughts


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