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Macaulay ready for Q school test

'I'm looking forward to it," said Callum Macaulay as he prepared for this weekend's European Tour qualifying school final in Girona.

Some would say expressing enthusiasm for this anguish-laden six-round scramble is a bit like harbouring a fondness for eye surgery without anaesthesia, but Macaulay is made of sterner stuff.

While many in the field will be going into the event, which tees off today, with waning morale having slipped off the main tour, Macaulay is in fine fettle after progressing through stage two of the process in third place at the El Valle resort earlier this month. With a strong card for the Challenge Tour tucked safely in his back pocket, the former Scottish Amateur champion has nothing to lose and everything to gain in north east Spain.

Four years ago, during a glittering campaign in the unpaid ranks in which he won the national matchplay championship and the Eisenhower Trophy with his Scotland team-mates Wallace Booth and Gavin Dear, Macaulay ended the season on the ultimate high by securing a place on the European circuit in the Q school final.

His rookie year in 2009, which was burnished by a second-place finish in the Madeira Islands Open, ended with him narrowly losing his place at the top table and he has been trying to get back there ever since. "I have always thought that if you win your way through second stage you are going to be in a better frame of mind than coming there having lost your card on the main tour," said Macaulay, who will be making his fourth appearance in the final stage at PGA Catalunya. "The only time I got my card, which was the first time, I didn't feel any nerves at all. That's probably because I had nothing to lose.

"It's tough in terms of having to play well over six rounds but I wouldn't say it's tough endurance-wise, as there are guys in their 70s who will play golf six days in a row. I think the toughest test is the mental side."

Having started the Challenge Tour season with a tie for third in India in January, Macaulay went off the boil during the peak months of the campaign and a run of six missed cuts in eight events hindered his promotion push.

"Having had a look at my results over the past couple of years, I've noticed that I've had quite a dip in form in the middle of the season," he said. "There can be as many as 12 events in a row and it's hard for me to leave one off my schedule as I don't like the thought of sitting in the house and worrying about people passing me on the money list. I've tried to play every week and, in hindsight, I think that's been too many. When you get on a bad run it's difficult to get out of it.

"I was starting to think something was blatantly wrong and I think I'm going to have to look at my scheduling differently in the future. I feel I'm good enough to be on the European Tour and think I've spent enough time now on the Challenge Tour. I've played these Q school courses umpteen times now and know what I need to do."

Macaulay will be one of nine Scots involved in the scrap for 25 tour cards on offer. Alastair Forsyth, George Murray and Gary Orr, who all dropped off the main circuit, will be aiming for an instant return while Macaulay's former amateur team-mate Booth, who earned promotion to the Challenge Tour through the PGA EuroPro Tour rankings, tees up in the final for the first time. Raymond Russell, Jamie McLeary, Andrew McArthur and Scott Drummond are also steeling themselves for this golfing dogfight.

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