The R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking has again proven itself as a means of identifying the game’s top amateurs. England’s Danny Willett, who spent twelve weeks at number one in the rankings, his compatriot Chris Wood, who occupied second spot after this year’s Open heroics and Callum Macaulay of Scotland, currently standing at number six, all successfully completed qualifying school and earned their PGA European Tour cards.
The ranking system, launched by The R&A in January 2007, monitors competitions occurring all over the world and awards ranking points appropriately. For 2008, in recognition of WAGR’s consistency in highlighting amateur talent, the PGA European Tour offered exemptions into the second round of qualifying school for the three highest ranked WAGR top-ten players who wished enter the professional ranks.
Ireland’s Shane Lowry, Norway’s Anders Kristiansen and Rory Hie of Indonesia all benefited from these exemptions with Kristiansen and Hie both making it into the final stage of qualifying. Unfortunately, the Norwegian fell at this hurdle but Hie, the winner of the 2008 Dogwood Invitational, finished in 59th position and earned a PGA European Challenge Tour card.
Callum Macaulay narrowly missed out on an exemption having been in 13th place in the amateur standings when the exemptions were awarded. Undaunted, current Scottish Amateur Champion, who tied for second place in the individual standings at October’s World Amateur Team Championships, played exceptionally well in all three stages of the school - fourteen rounds at 28 under par – and proved that he is more than ready to begin his career as a tour professional.
Danny Willett, who turned professional earlier this year, secured 4th spot at the final stage of qualifying school at PGA Golf de Catalunya, Spain. Two places below Willett was 2008 Open Championship Silver Medalist Chris Wood, once again demonstrating why he was ranked as the second best amateur in the world.
Other former WAGR ranked players to achieve their full PGA European Tour card were Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell and former R&A Scholar Federico Colombo of Italy whilst on the other side of the Atlantic, Colt Knost, former WAGR number one and recipient of the inaugural Mark H McCormack Medal awarded to the year’s best amateur golfer, won his PGA Tour card after a successful season on the Nationwide Tour.