Liam Johnston ready for Q School after 'good year' as European Tour rookie

By Martin WattBBC Scotland
Johnston's tied fifth at the Czech Masters was his highest finish of the year
Liam Johnston's tied fifth at the Czech Masters was his highest finish of the year

Liam Johnston says he has had a "good year" as a European Tour rookie despite losing his card and being pitched into the perils of Qualifying School.

The 26-year-old is one of six Scots competing in the six-round final stage in Spain, which starts on Friday.

Johnston's self-belief remains intact after a testing debut season following his step up from the Challenge Tour.

"The experience and what I've gained from this year on the biggest stage in Europe is invaluable," he said.

"On the face of it I've lost my card, but it's been a good year and a big learning curve. I made more cuts on the European Tour than I did on the Challenge Tour."

After turning pro in late 2017, two wins in Johnston's solitary season on the Challenge Tour catapulted him to the main circuit.

But seven missed cuts in his first nine European Tour events stalled his progress and he posted just three top-20 finishes in 30 events to finish 148th in the Race to Dubai standings.

Johnston is adamant, though, graduation from the second tier did not come too soon.

"If I had spent another year on the Challenge Tour, I wouldn't have learned as much as I have this year," he said. "Being thrown in at the deep end is the best way to learn.

"There are personal highlights like getting into contention in Kenya and the Czech Republic.

"Playing with guys that are big names, I played with [Bryson] DeChambeau at one tournament. DeChambeau is quite eccentric, fair play to him, he's doing really well for himself sticking to what he does.

"You kind of learn from him by realising you've got to be very selfish in this game, not listening to what everyone tells you. I'm sure people have told him, 'Oh that won't work.' But he's so into his philosophy and it works for him, which is all that matters."

Johnston joins compatriots Marc Warren, Ewen Ferguson󠁴󠁿, Euan Walker, Craig Howie and Daniel Young at the Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona, where the top 25 in the 156-man field secure European Tour playing rights.

It is a notoriously difficult end-of-season shootout, but after a two-week break, Johnston is refreshed and feeling unburdened by pressure.

"It's just six rounds of golf, he said. "You will make it tougher on yourself if you let it get to you mentally.

"It's a stepping stone on the journey of your golfing career. If you get your card, absolutely brilliant. If you don't, it's not the end of the world.

󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿"I've taken time off and just been practising smart, a couple of hours here and there, making sure it's good practice as opposed to just beating balls for hours, which can become counterproductive."

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