Jacques Blaauw heads to the United States this week ahead of the Web.com Qualifying School first stage, and the man who broke through with three wins on the Sunshine Tour last year sees the move as a natural progression in his career.
“I had a look and Web.com Tour Q-School is my best way of getting onto the PGA Tour,” said Blaauw, who finds himself in 17th position on the 2014 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit after 16 tournaments with six top-10 finishes and a best of second in March’s Investec Cup tournament.
“Back on the Sunshine Tour we have six co-sanctioned events, six chances to get onto the European Tour with a win,” he added. “In between those times we play smaller events in South Africa’s winter, and I want to take the next step, so I decided to try and get my Web.com Tour card and play winter in the States.
“I’ve watched guys like Tyrone van Aswegen and Richard Sterne play their way onto the PGA Tour through that route. The way they did it was to get into the Web.com Tour Finals and then make the top 50.”
He had the small matter of a cancelled flight to the US to negotiate before he could get down to the business of actually trying to qualify: “I was due to fly today but there is an Air France strike and all of the flights have been cancelled for the next three days. Luckily they were able to book me a new ticket and I’ll get across the US soon,” he said.
It’s a tortuous process which awaits him. “The Web.com Tour qualifying school is similar to most others and you have to enter and play your way through,” he said. :Unfortunately I have to get through all three stages and I’m headed across for the first stage now. It runs from the seventh to the 10th of October and I’ll come back after that. I can’t stay because I need to come back and play for the Chase to the Investec Cup, so I’ll travel back after first stage and play some tournaments here.
“If I make it through then second stage is from the 10th to the 16th of November and the third stage is from the 11th to the 14th of November. I’ll be travelling back in between, but that’s part of it.”
For Blaauw, the travel won’t be too daunting. “I went to college in America in 2007, to the University of Oklahoma, which has a good golf history. I’ve always wanted to go back, because I really like America and I’m not too bothered by the travelling,” he said.
And at the end of that road, there is a chance to realise one of his ambitions. “One of my dreams is to play on the PGA Tour and I’ve had the chance to play with Chris Stroud and Rickie Fowler. I also spent a lot of time playing with Victor Dubuisson, especially as an amateur, and I believe I’m good enough to compete at that level,” he said.