Hartlepool’s Graeme Storm to enjoy his golf after European Tour reprieve

Graeme Storm will be on the European Tour again next season
Graeme Storm will be on the European Tour again next season
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Graeme Storm plans to “enjoy” his golf again after receiving a reprieve on the European Tour.

The Hartlepool star was facing relegation from the top division of the sport after 16 unbroken years in highest echelon, which included his greatest triumph, at the 2007 French Open.

I’ll be back out there in South Africa at the end of this month ready to go again and my aim now is to just enjoy my golf

GRAEME STORM

Storm needed to finish the season in the top 111 of the Order of Merit, or Race to Dubai in new money.

But the 38-year-old suffered the heartache of being placed 112th .

In golf’s league table, points are measured in prize money and Storm totalled 247,447 euros, just 90 euros behind David Howell in 111th, a difference which works out at only £80.

However, Storm moved up to 111th after Patrick Reed dropped out of the competition, the American having not fulfilled his quota of European Tour events.

A golfer must play in five tournaments and when the world number eight withdrew from the Turkish Airlines Open at the weekend and opted not to enter the Nedbank Golf Challenge this Thursday, it meant he had played in only three regular tournaments in 2016.

Storm had been facing the prospect of going to the European Tour School in Spain – the equivalent of a play-off in football – to try to retain his card or being relegated to the European Challenge Tour.

However, the Hartlepool Golf Club member will be on the tee when the European Tour resumes for the 2017 season at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa on December 1.

“I’d had an inkling but didn’t really want to say anything,” Storm told SportMail. “I was watching the situation closely so when I learned he wasn’t going to play Turkey then I knew there was a good chance.

“But it was still nice to get the call from the European Tour that I was moving up to 111th. The rules are there that the numbers have to be fulfilled and Patrick has not done that.

“I am so relieved that I have got my card and I’m just looking forward to getting back out there again.

“I’ve been ticking over, practising and doing stuff with the guys on the golf programme at Dyke House.

“I felt confident and comfortable about going to the European Tour School and qualifying there.

“But, at the end of the day, it’s golf and you never know for certain, so to be able to retain my card without going there is fantastic.”

Storm has enjoyed a fine career, including appearances in all four of golf’s majors and even led one when he was on top of the board after round one of the 2007 USPGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club, just weeks after taking his maiden European title in Paris.

The Dyke House Sports & Technology College golf coach and mentor had flirted with relegation in 2014 and 2015 only to pull off a Pools-style ‘great escape’ before the end of the season.

“I came good in the previous two seasons but this year has not gone as well as I would have hoped,” he added. “But I’ll be back out there in South Africa at the end of this month ready to go again and my aim now is to just enjoy my golf and see where that takes me.”