Exciting 2023 for two top Welsh golfers
2023 is set to be a hugely exciting year for two of Wales’s best up-and-coming golfers after securing places on top European professional tours.
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.
The two players had come up through the Wales Golf High Performance Programme and represented Wales, building the support networks to prepare them for the leap into the professional ranks.
Bramwell, aged 22, is a former Welsh Amateur champion while Harries, 23, is a former Welsh Open Youths champion.
“2023 is going to be a life-changing experience, I am excited for it to start now,” said Harries.
“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.”
Bramwell is also looking to build on her time as an amateur to push for the highest level. “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,” she 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 LET career in the New Year, saying, “It all starts in Kenya in February for me this year after getting through qualifying.
“It was my first year going to Q School so I had no expectations, which is the best way of approaching it for me.
“I had played on the LET Access Series all year, making every cut and picking up some top 10’s, so I knew I had playing rights there for next year and thought I could carry on developing.
“Learning how to cope with the travel and gain experience on the Access Tour, that was the plan I made along with my coach Paul Williams (who is also Wales Golf National Female Coach).
“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 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.
“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.”