Steven O'Hara targets a winning season after retaining tour card

By Annie McGuireBBC Sport Scotland
Steven O'Hara
O'Hara and Gary Orr secured their place on the European Tour in Girona this week.

Steven O'Hara has spoken of his relief after retaining his place on the European Tour for next season.

The Scot and his compatriot Gary Orr came through qualifying school in Girona this week.

And O'Hara says that if he can remedy his putting problems he could have a more successful campaign next season.

"If I can add an average putting stat to my long game stat then I should be in contention and hopefully even pull off a win," he said.

"When I first came out on tour I was getting six or seven top 10 finishes a year, which isn't the best stat really, but I was keeping my card no problem

"It's been a long stressful year. I think I've played 34 tournaments, trying to get my card for next year.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself towards the end of the season, so it was good to come out last week and hit the ball really well and put pretty solidly and get a good result of the end of it. I can now relax for a couple of weeks for the first time all year."

The 31-year-old managed just two top ten finishes in 2011, but comfortably came through the week in Girona, finishing four shots off behind winner David Dixon.

And O'Hara admits that failure would have had a detrimental effect on his career and his bank balances.

"The whole year rides on qualifying school," he told BBC Scotland.

"On the European Tour you are playing for about 10 times the amount of prize money than if you had to drop down to Challenger level.

"But apart from that you want to play against the best players in the best fields. It's the highest level you can play at in Europe and it is where I should be to be honest.

"Not getting the card would have almost meant taking a year out again.

"It's like starting over again, but it isn't the end of the world. I had to do it five years ago - it was the most enjoyable experience but I got through it."