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Former Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour member Keith Horne has secured a full exemption on the Legends Tour for the 2023 season after clinching the Legends Tour Qualifying School title at Gloria Golf Resort in Turkey.
Heading into the final round top of the leaderboard in Belek on nine-under-par, the 51-year-old made a great start on the Old Course as he entered the turn on two-under, four-shots ahead of Qualifying School qualifier Greig Hutcheon. Nine pars would follow for the nine-time Sunshine Tour winner as a final round 70 was enough to take home the title and secure his first Legends Tour card.
With a final round four-under 68, Englishman Sean Whiffin finished two shots back of Horne in second place to secure his card, one clear of the third-placed duo of France’s Lionel Alexandre and Hutcheon. Early clubhouse leader Gustavo Acosta’s final round 68 was enough to secure his place for 2023 as he finished two shots ahead of the chasing pack.
All five players have now earned full playing rights for 2023, giving them the opportunity to play alongside greats of the game including Pádraig Harrington, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Paul Lawrie, Colin Montgomerie and Paul McGinley.
Gloria Golf Resort also hosted the 36-hole First Stage of qualifying from January 16-17, from where several players progressed to the Final Stage, which began on Friday January 20, including Simon Griffiths.
Griffiths continued his fine form to share the lead with Legends Tour regulars Carl Suneson and David Shacklady after opening-round scores of 68, before Spain’s Carlos Balmaseda’s 66 saw him race up the leaderboard to join Griffiths on seven-under-par after day two.
As Horne rocketed through the field on day three, the cut was installed at three over, meaning some familiar faces, including Brendan McGovern, Mark Wharton, Liam Bond and Jose Manuel Carriles all missed out on the final round.
A number of other notable players missed out on a full 2023 Legends Tour card, including three-time Legends Tour winner Shacklady, DP World Tour winner Andre Bossert and Paul Streeter, who earned his card at the 2018 Qualifying School.
Speaking after victory, Horne said: “I’ve had lots of messages from friends and family back home. It’s a big relief I got the job done, I’m just glad I didn’t let them down – I hope they are all enjoying a few beers and some champagne for me back home.”
The 2023 Legends Tour season will feature at least 18 tournaments with a record-breaking prize fund – with final numbers set to be released shortly – which will be a significant increase on the 2022 campaign.
Among the exciting developments for 2023 is the news that the spectacular Trump International Golf Links Aberdeen will host the Tour for the first time when the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship is played from August 24-27.
The Scottish venue is joined on the schedule by another breath-taking links newcomer, with Seapoint Golf Links – a rising star in the ranks of Irish links courses and located on the East coast, just an hour north of Dublin – set to host a major international professional event for the first time from June 23-25 when the Irish Legends comes to town.
The JCB Championship will return from August 3-5 after a glorious debut in 2022, when a host of superstars including Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke and Paul Lawrie descended upon the spectacular Uttoxeter venue, with Germany’s Alex Cejka finishing two shots clear of Ireland’s Paul McGinley to lift the title.