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Manchester Evening News: Haydn McCullen
Article posted: 20 September 2018

I’ve been really fortunate that Ged Mason from the Morson Group has supported me over the last few years and I’ve been given a great opportunity. It’s something I’ll never be able to thank him enough for.

- Haydn McCullen

After bogeying my first three holes after eight months out with injury back in May, I’m pretty happy with the way my year has gone.

I’ve been playing on the EuroPro Tour, which feeds into the Challenge Tour - a rung below the European Tour - this year and won my first stage of European Tour Qualifying School at The Players in Bristol last week.

So – stick with me - I’ve got Second stage and then hopefully Final Stage, where the top 25 get European Tour cards, to come. 

Last week 21 of the 93 got through and it’s a very different kind of feeling. I led by two after the second and third rounds and finished two clear but, even when you’re ahead, you’re not really thinking about winning, just trying to play steady and keep going. People’s livelihoods are on the line at Q School and it’s a different kind of pressure.

Hopefully I’ll get a course that suits me in the second stage and we’ll go from there. I’ve also got Desert Springs, which is the EuroPro Tour Championships, next month. I was going well there three years ago until I had to pull out after hurting my wrist hitting a cactus bush! 

The top five in the Order of Merit after that get Challenge Tour cards and it’s another chance to move up. 

The EuroPro isn’t easy. You really need to finish in the top 10 to be making money and it’s a good standard, the cuts are always under par and we play some good courses. It’s produced some great players and it’s a good tour that definitely toughens you up. 

I’ve been really fortunate that Ged Mason from the Morson Group has supported me over the last few years and I’ve been given a great opportunity. It’s something I’ll never be able to thank him enough for.

I’m still having to manage a back problem that kept me out for quite a few months after I qualified for The Open last year. I got to play with quite a few major winners, like Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Stewart Cink and people like Jason Dufner and Ryan Moore at Royal Birkdale. 

The big thing I took out of the whole experience was that they weren’t much better than me, they just get the best out of their game. Not all of them are hitting it 340 yards, but they know how to manage themselves around the golf course. 

It was really frustrating not to be able to build on that because of the injury. I wasn’t really able to hit a ball for six months and it was so boring – although I have got pretty good at pool! 

After that I was probably never going to get off to a fast start this year but, as well as last week, I’ve had four straight top-16 finishes on the EuroPro, with a second place in there too, so I’m ending the year playing nicely with plenty to play for.

Haydn's column appeared in the Manchester Evening News on Thursday September 20. Haydn, Matt Nixon and Tom Murray will be appearing once a week in the MEN.

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