Thelen Is European Senior Tour Q-School Medalist
February 1, 2019
LAGOA, Portugal -- Tim Thelen birdied three of the first four holes on the back nine of the Pinta Course at Pestana Golf Resort on Thursday. That birdie spree helped to propel him to a final round of 2-under-par 69, which was good enough to take medalist honors in the Final Stage of Qualifying for the 2019 Staysure Tour.
The 57-year-old from Albany fiinished 72 holes with a total of 279, one ahead of Spaniard Jose Manuel Carriles, who closed with a 71. Another American, Dan Olsen, claimed the third of the five exemptions that were at stake with a 281, despite shooting a 4-over 75 on the final day. Andre Bossert of Switzerland was fourth with an aggregate of 282.
Stuart Little got the last exemption the hard way. He made a 30-foot putt for birdie on the last hole of regulation, thereby tying fellow Englishman Peter Wilson for fifth and forcing a playoff, which Little won with a birdie on the second extra hole.
This is the second time that Thelen has won the Final Stage of the European Tour's Q-School. He won it for the first time in 2010, after being the medalist for the First Stage, as well.
After finishing 24th on the European Senior money list in his first year, 2011, he won three times and finished third on the money list in 2012, with more than 250,000 euros to his credit. He won again in 2014 and was seventh on the money list that year. Thelen won for the fifth time in Europe in 2016 and ended that year at No. 8 on the money list.
In 2018, he was No. 34 with 62,639 Euros earned in 17 events. He is No 38 on the Staysure Tour's all-time career money list, having made more than 850,000 euros in eight seasons.
If you're wondering why someone with those credentials had to go back to Q-School, you're not alone. The basic answer is that the senior tours (PGA Champions and European) are the hardest ones to qualify for, and the hardest ones to stay on.
"I knew I was going to get some starts this year," Thelen said after accepting his first-place medal, "but I knew I wasn't going to get in all of them. I've been on the Staysure Tour for eight years, and I've made a lot of great friends out here. It's a good tour, a very friendly tour, and we get to visit a lot of the world. It's very satisfying to know I've got a place to play this year. Players have come here from all over the world, and you're playing for five spots."
Thelen played high school golf at Albany. He went to Foothills Junior College and then played Division I golf at Houston Baptist, where one of his teammates was Colin Montgomerie. After graduating, Thelen became a club professional in Texas, and won the National Club Pro Championship twice, in 2000 and 2003.
Staysure (European Senior) Tour
Pestana Golf Resort
Pinta Course (par 71)
Final results (The top five finishers will be fully exempt for the 2019 Staysure Tour.)
1. Tim Thelen, USA 73-71-66-69--279 (minus 5)
2. Jose Manuel Carriles, Spain 72-71-66-71--280
3. Dan Olsen, USA 73-67-66-75--281
4. Andre Bossert, Switzerland 71-66-75-70--282
5. Stuart Little, England 75-69-69-70--283 (won playoff for the fifth spot with a birdie on the second extra hole)
6. Peter Wilson, England 71-69-73-73--283