Published: 00:00, 17 May 2019
Five years since distancing himself from tour golf, Richard Wallis is now gearing up to compete on the PGA EuroPro stage.
The 38-year-old, a senior teaching professional at Canterbury golf club, shot two under par to make the top 40 from a field of 240 at final qualifying school at Frilford Heath, Oxfordshire in April.
His reward is an opportunity to resume a flourishing career that he was happy to sideline in order to spend time with wife Nicola and their two children Naya and Jacob.
Wallis admitted: "I was doing well in 2013/2014. I was playing a few main tour events and made a couple of cuts on the main tour. I was playing EuroPro a bit already and I actually won the first or second event of the 2013 calendar and then went on to have my (Guinness) world record (as the only person to shoot 14 under par in a single round) the week after that.
"I made the cut at the Scottish Open in the summer. We got married in May and then had Naya my daughter that same year so it was a busy period. I decided pretty much straight away that I didn't want to miss my kids growing up so I finished out that season and took a teaching role at Canterbury, we then had Jacob a couple of years later.
"Now Naya is six and Jacob starts school in September so it was a time when I could start thinking about playing again. It means I can go away for a couple of weeks and not miss anything. I know that's hard on my wife but it won't be as hard as it would have been five years ago."
Wallis has won the South of England Order of Merit five times in the last eight years, as well as finishing runner-up in 2018 to automatically leapfrog the first stage of EuroPro qualifying.
Despite enduring some difficulties in his putting game, he went on to tie for 39th after rounds of 71, 73, 70 and is now due to begin the season in the two-day IFC Payments Championship at Melbourne Club, Brocket Hall on May 22.
Wallis said: "Really once you've made the cut that's enough to get you your full status on the EuroPro. I played a couple of main tour events last year where a couple of members helped me out, so I approached them and they've said they're going to sponsor me.
"They're local companies, one being Strata, then there is Synergy and Morgan's Pomade. I've got a bit of backing for the season which is brilliant because it's obviously expensive, especially when you've got a mortgage and children to look out for as well. You have to pay entry, then plus the four nights in the hotel and fuel, so at least £1000 a week really.
"The competition is very good, it's £10,000 first prize (at each event) so everybody wants to advance to a full Challenge Tour card. It's a good standard.
"The boys that have done well in the last few years and got their Challenge and Main Tour cards have all seemed to go on and do bigger and better things. You're looking at the likes of Jordan Smith, who got his full European Tour card a year after doing well on the EuroPro. There have been four or five tour winners that started playing EuroPro stuff, Tyrell Hatton played EuroPro, Louis Oosthuizen played a couple and Eddie Pepperell as well.
"I've cut down my hours at the golf club now, that's freed up a bit more time for me to work on my game, sharpening up around the short game and practising those shots I haven't had to play for years now.
"That was kind of the big thing for me in qualifying, noticing that on the tough holes and when I had to knuckle down I was great, but then my concentration seemed to slip on the easier shots. I know that I'm still capable of doing it, it's just about making sure I concentrate fully.
"I'm not going into the first one thinking I'm going to win but I'll be trying. I'm as strong as I've ever been and I've won on the tour before so it's not like I don't know how to win."
Wallis has committed to playing 12 out of the 15 events and continued his preparations by successfully defending his title at the Hayling Island Pro-Am last Friday.
More by this authorCameron Hogwood