↑ Mikko Korhonen of Finland holds the trophy after winning the 2019 Volvo China Open at Genzon Golf Club on May 5, 2019 in Shenzhen, China. 28 | NZ Golf Magazine | July 2019 FEATURE “Even with a decent personal sponsor and a modest equipment and clothing endorsement, there is massive pressure in making the cut whenever you do get a start, and the chances of getting a run of three or four consecutive events back-to- back, to build up some consistency and momentum are few and far between, and without regular and reasonable on-course earnings, money is invariably in deficit as expenses are high, inescapable and on-going.” He concludes, “It’s a young man’s game, you have to look to make it before you have family commitments, and, the way the Tour, and its exemptions structure works, it certainly favours current and historic high-achievers and at the expense of is newbies.” And, if earning full European Tour playing rights by battling through the byzantine and precarious Q School, the mortality rate is high; of the 27 who made it onto the 2018 European Tour via the 2017 Q School, only six made enough money in 2018 to retain their card. But tenacity and perseverance can pay dividends; Finnish player Mikko Korhonen had been to Q School on no fewer than a dozen occasions, graduating on eight occasions since turning professional in 2003 - once as winner in 2014 – eventually striking pay-dirt with victory at the 2018 Shot Clock Masters and, most recently, earning the US$500,000 first prize at this year’s Volvo China Open, catapulting the 38-year-old into uncharted territory, inside the top-100 on the OWGR and the top 20 on the Race to Dubai. However, let there be no doubt; in a schedule peppered with ‘Majors,’ WGC and Final Series events, co-sanctioned tournaments and a worrying number of gaps in the calendar, only the elite can pick and choose their schedules. For the rest – the vast majority of the European Tour’s 350-plus active members – remaining on the circuit mid-to-long-term can – and often is – a rollercoaster ride, the greater number requiring a career-changing tournament win or a purple patch. Otherwise, it's the Challenge Tour, Q School or, for the more adventurous, to try their hand at a less competitive, but lower money, circuit such as the Asian Tour, or, hit and hope, clamber up the rankings towards the promised land of one of those 156 precious places available in a couple of dozen of the European Tour’s full field events, wherever in the world they may be. It is, indeed, for all but a few, living the dream, trudging down a long and winding – and rocky road where costs are high and success, fame and fortune are far from certain.