Promising young Welsh golfers hope for breakthrough year in 2023
Two of Wales’s best up-and-coming golfers have secured places on top European professional tours for 2023.
Abergele’s Lea-Anne Bramwell secured a place on the Ladies European Tour by holing a 20-foot putt on the last hole of qualifying, while Tenby’s Luke Harries got through to final qualifying to earn playing rights on the European Challenge Tour.
Bramwell, aged 22, is a former Welsh Amateur champion while Harries, 23, is a former Welsh Open Youths champion.
Both players had come up through the Wales Golf High Performance Programme and have represented Wales at international level.
“2023 is going to be a life-changing experience, I am excited for it to start now,” said Harries, who will be competing in the second-tier of men’s professional golf tour in Europe next year.
“My amateur career has been everything in terms of getting me here. The little things like how to prepare for tournaments, access to support staff, psychologist, strength and conditioning.
“Wales Golf do a very good job of putting good support around a player to develop every single part of being involved in golf.
“I have just been learning and trying to take everything on board, everything I have been told over the last 10 years.”
“I won the Welsh Amateur and no-one can take that away from me, but personally I do not think I had a very good amateur career,” Lea-Anne Bramwell said.
“I see there are a lot of really, really good amateurs who do not make it as a pro because it is different getting used to tour life, the travelling from country to country. Playing on the LET Access Series this year opened my eyes to everything.”
Bramwell is preparing for an early start to her professional career in the New Year, with her first tournament taking place in Kenya after earning her place on the tour in dramatic fashion.
“I got through the to the third stage and was five over for my first round, 139th out of 150 competitors. I was trying to just go out there and have some fun because anything would be a bonus.
“Then I was five under for my second round and played solidly in my last two rounds. I had some great help from Paul ( coach Paul Williams) which helped me take it shot by shot.
“There were scoreboards round the green on the last hole, I could see what score I was on and what I needed.
“I had a long, difficult bunker shot and thought I had missed getting my card. Then I had a 20-foot, downhill putt with two to three feet of borrow to get my card.
“After that went in, I was practically crying coming off that green, overwhelmed with the whole situation.”
That putt could be life changing for Bramwell with this year set to be the biggest and most lucrative in LET history.
Harries is one step away from the even more lucrative DP World Tour, but the Challenge Tour is the standard springboard to the top level of the men’s game in Europe.
Players who are successful on the Challenge Tour qualify for a place on the European Tour the following year.
The top twenty players earn direct promotion to the European Tour, while players finishing 21–45 may also gain qualification for occasional low-prize-money European Tour events.
Players who win three Challenge Tour events in a season are fast-tracked onto the main tour immediately and are fully exempt the following season.
“I went through all three stages of the DP World Tour qualifying school. I did not get a full tour card but did get a Challenge Tour card for next year, so that will be my main focus when it starts,” he said.
“It is pretty exciting to be looking forward to my first year as a pro and hopefully have the chance to work my way onto the full tour.
“Going through qualifying was interesting. I went as an amateur, with the Walker Cup coming up I wanted to keep my options open in case it did not work out.”
Harries went to Sweden for Stage One Qualifying the week after helping Wales to a top 10 finish in the Eisenhower Trophy, World Amateur Team Championships, winning through in Alicante before Final Qualifying in Barcelona.
“I had had a good summer, played a lot and learned a lot about my game,” he said. “My coach Neil Matthews (also Wales Golf Head of Coaching) is experienced with this kind of stuff, he knew when I was ready.
“I had the invite to play in Mauritius on the DP World Tour before Christmas so I it seemed a good time to turn pro when the opportunity came up.
“In amateur golf there are not too many spectators, cameras and microphones around, so it was a different environment, but I did not feel out of my depth.
“Deciding to forgo the chance of a Walker Cup place was a big thing, it was a hard discussion to turn pro now, but I had earned a good status on tour, was playing well and I could have gone to qualifying a year later and not done as well.
“It was always my goal and my dream to play professional golf and give myself the chance to get onto the main European tour.”
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