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Golf: Gary Emerson back on European stage
IN-FORM Gary Emerson has set himself a target of reaching the Tour Championship after making a promising start to his European Senior Tour campaign.
Despite playing just two events since celebrating his 50th birthday last month, Emerson is already 73rd on the money list after ninth and 11th-place finishes respectively in the English and Dutch senior opens earlier this month.
The Remedy Oak star, however, needs to break into the top 50 with just one more 2013 event in Taiwan – the Fubon Senior Open on November 15-17 – before the end-of-season showdown in Mauritius in December.
“It’s a tough ask after only three events and I will probably have to finish in the top five in Taiwan to stand a chance,” said Emerson, who qualified for the tour as a European Tour event winner.
“Although the Tour Champion-ship is my immediate target, my main focus is producing a few more solid rounds and getting ready for next season.”
Emerson lost his European Tour playing privileges in 2007 after 12 relatively fruitful seasons in the top flight which included winning the Russian Open in 2004.
He also secured six-figure pay days by finishing runner-up in the British Masters and Dutch Open in the following two years.
“There have been some tough times for me since I lost my card,” admitted Emerson. “It’s been a struggle to make ends meet and I lost a lot of confidence.
“In the past year, however, my form started to pick up and I recently shot an eight-under-par at Woodbury Park. I also shot a few other low scores which helped me prepare for the tour.”
In the past six years, Emerson has carved out a living by hosting golf days, coaching, and accepting ambassadorial roles.
But a rejuvenated Emerson is now looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the game’s big names once more.
“I love being involved again and it’s great to meet up with all the guys I knew on the main tour,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I started, but I put in a couple of good rounds and the confidence and good feelings came flooding back.”
Emerson finished tied ninth at the English Seniors Open at Rockcliffe Hall, County Durham.
With Playgolf Bournemouth assistant Dan Clark on the bag, Emerson carded rounds of 70, 72 and 67 for a seven-under-par total – 10 shots behind winner Steen Tinning.
And a week later he was poised to secure another high finish in the Dutch Seniors Open before heavy rain reduced the event to just two rounds.
“It’s a shame the weather was so bad in Holland. I had a good second round and was only five shots off the lead and looking forward to moving up the leader board,” said Emerson, who had to settle for a share of 11th place after scores of 76 and 72 in Amsterdam.
Dorset’s other European Seniors Tour player Kevin Spurgeon, meanwhile, finished 52nd and 23rd respectively in the English and Dutch events.
However, the 57-year-old Ferndown stalwart has already done enough to qualify for the Tour Championship in Mauritius on December 13-15.
Spurgeon, who won the 2010 Mauritius Open, is currently in 30th place on the order of merit and is on course for an eighth successive season on the tour.
And rookie Emerson hopes to follow in Spurgeon’s footsteps by winning a seniors European title.
“I go into each event with low expectations with the intention to achieve good results,” said Emerson. “I won’t get too far ahead of myself but I’d like to think I am capable of winning a tournament.”
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