Duncan Stewart calls time on top level golf career
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EX-EUROPEAN Tour golfer Duncan Stewart has said it has been tough to call time on his professional career but in the end he had no real choice, especially with a young family to support.
The 35-year-old said that a bitterly disappointing season on the PGA Challenge Tour had left him with very little playing rights in 2020.
Stewart had been mixing it in 2017 with some of the world’s best players but he has struggled for consistency since dropping back to the second tier circuit.
He finished 112th this past season – earning €8341.17 in prize money – and this meant he was likely to play as few as five tournaments, while he also missed out at the second stage of Qualifying School.
Stewart told the Strathy: "It was an extremely tough decision to make but in the end it wasn't really through choice. It was because I had played so poorly and left myself with no real status for next season.
"If I had full Challenge Tour status next year, I would have definitely played on."
Instead, Stewart will be working full-time for Druids Golf at their golf clothing warehouse near his home in Edinburgh where he relocated to from Grantown to make it easier to play on tour.
"I am never going to say never but right now it looks very unlikely I will return as a pro," he said.
"I have always said if I'm not playing and practising full-time there's no point because it would be nearly impossible to compete with the guys who are full-time."
"It has been good to get a break from golf and reflect on everything.
"This season was bitterly disappointing and I still don't really know what caused my poor form. I felt like I was working on the right things."
It is the first time since 2013 that Stewart has not had any status on the European Tour and only the second time since 2012 he has had no full status on the Challenge Tour.
It means he would be unlikely not get a start until July or August.
Stewart, who has played 127 PGA tournaments, did have the option to go back and play on the Europro Tour, starting in May, but decided against it.
He said: "I have been thinking about next season a lot since Q School and talking through my options with my family.
"After much discussion we have decided that it could be time to start a new chapter. It feels like the right time to step away.
"For the past 20 years I have dedicated my life to playing golf and it has been an incredible journey, which has taken me to over 35 countries all over the world.
"Throughout my entire golfing career, which goes back to when I was 10, I have had so much support and help from so many different people.
"My parents have been behind me every step of the way and I will be eternally grateful to them for the sacrifices they have made and the support they have given me.
"I am so grateful and thankful for every single person who supported and believed in me."
Stewart said his highlights were winning the Challenge de Madrid – his first and only European Challenge victory – in 2016, gaining his European Tour card the same year and representing Scotland at the World Cup with Russell Knox.
He said: "I think most of the events were what I expected and I loved the big events that had all the crowds. The Irish Open had the best crowds by far. The standard and depth keeps getting better and better every year. If you are not at the top of your game you certainly won't be playing many weekends or making much money."