Life begins at 50: Senior Q School qualifiers

Canadian Ken Tarling has won the 2015 European Senior Tour Q School by seven shots

Canadian Ken Tarling on his way to an emphatic European Senior Tour Q School victory
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After a tense final day at Pestana Resort in Portugal, a Canadian, a Frenchman, an Aussie and three Englishmen became this year's Senior Q School qualifiers

They may only have to endure four rounds rather than the six that the youngsters have to go through, but the Q School experience for the over-50s is every bit as nerve-wracking, with just six full cards up for grabs from a field of 72 at the Final Stage, and then a further ten ‘conditional’ cards on offer.

This afternoon Canadian Ken Tarling wrapped things up in style at the Pestana Resort in Portugal after taking the lead halfway and then never losing it. Tarling was the only man to beat par for the week, finishing up at six-under to cruise home by seven, while an intense battle for the remaining five spots raged beneath him all day.

In the end, three Englishman, an Australian and a Frenchman all tied for 2nd place on one-over, with Graeme Bell, a club pro from Eaglescliffe Golf Club in Stockton-on-Tees, the most relieved. Having been in a strong position through 10, Bell hurt his hand playing that hole, then bogeyed the next three to make the final five a little more interesting than he would have liked, but despite bogeying the 18th as well, he was just able to hang on.

Eaglecliffe Golf Club's Graeme Bell had a late scare but did just enough to hold on

Eaglescliffe Golf Club's Graeme Bell had a late scare but did just enough to hold on

The other Englishmen to make it through were John Harrison from Matfen Hall, and Gary Marks, who has been working on and off at World of Golf in New Malden for the last few years. Harrison, who went bogey-free on the final day to climb into the coveted top six, has played on the European Senior Tour for five years, with a best finish of 3rd in the 2012 Van Lanschot Senior Open. Marks, who was born on Christmas Day in 1963, bogeyed his final two holes to make it closer than he would have liked. But in the end it was just enough to become one of this year's Senior Q School qualifiers.

The other two to share 2nd place were Tim Elliott, an Australian who played on tour Down Under for a number of years, winning twice, and Frenchman Roger Sabarros, for whom this will be the fourth attempt to establish himself among Europe’s over-50s.

Quite how many events they will all get to play remains to be seen as the European Senior Tour 2015 schedule is still a work in progress, although there was good news this week with Travis Perkins extending its sponsorship of the Masters over the Duke's Course at Woburn until 2018, with Colin Montgomerie, who won by 10 last year, going for three in a row this September.

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response