The curtain falls on both main tours this month with players now just a couple of tournaments away from a much needed break.
The Houston Open is the penultimate event on the PGA Tour, with the AVIV in Dubai the final regular European Tour outing before next week’s DP World Tour Championship.
This week’s event in the United Arab Emirates is the final counting tournament for a raft of players scrambling to retain their status for next season.
It’s make-or-break time and the pressure will be palpable.
Granted, a safety net is in place because of the pandemic and some guys will hang on to a form of conditional status for 2022, but it is a false economy.
In professional golf, retaining control of your destiny and securing full status is key.
Conditional status doesn’t give you anywhere near the same level of reassurance.
I know a lot was made of Thomas Pieters’ high emotions and crackling voice after the Belgian secured his first win in 27 months at last week’s Portugal Masters.
But the post-round reaction that resonated most with me came from Lucas Bjerregaard after a T2 finish guaranteed the Dane full status for next season.
Lucas, who had recorded just one top 10 finish in his previous two and a half years on the European Tour, broke down in his post-round interview.
His raw emotions struck a chord and it offered a sharp reminder of the emotional rollercoaster some players experience and have to endure at this time of year.
Bjerregaard won the Alfred Dunhill Links in 2018 and also beat Tiger Woods in a memorable WGC match play shootout in Texas three years ago.
He has enjoyed several highs since turning professional a decade ago, so the fact he shed tears after saving his card tells you everything you need to know.
“It’s never meant this much to me,” he said in Portugal, wiping tears from his eyes.
“This week, I didn’t even have to say anything to my caddie.
“I could sense it was just him and I against everyone. I did what I came here to do.”
The 30-year-old, who had missed seven cuts in his previous 15 outings, passed one of his toughest tests in the Algarve and it was written large on his face.
The top-50 in the Race to Dubai after this week’s AVIV Dubai Championship will progress to next week’s lucrative shootout at the DP World Championship.
But the scramble for a top-122 finish – the cut-off point for retaining your European Tour card – will be equally as fascinating.
Like Bjerregaard, someone else will go through the wringer this week.
Tears of joy, relief and devastation will fall in the desert.
Fate Michael Hoey had hoped to avoid..
Michael Hoey missed out on a European Tour card for next season after finishing 33rd at the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final in Mallorca.
It wasn’t enough to propel the County Antrim golfer into the top-20 in the Race to Mallorca standings, which would have secured him a spot in the top tier for 2022.
Hoey, who finished 39th in the overall rankings, was the only Irish player to threaten a final push for the promised land, with John Murphy next highest in 69th.
Murphy’s finish means he can play every week on the Challenge Tour next season and that’s a great return considering he only turned pro at the start of summer.
Tom McKibbin’s 108th finish in the rankings also gives him some status for 2022.
There’s no doubt the Challenge Tour is a tough terrain and it’s always a grind trying to navigate your way to the European Tour.
The Challenge Tour is not an all-exempt tour so there is some wriggle room for the various federations to secure starts for their players.
The weekly fields are also made up of almost 40 percent local invitations and this gives our younger players a chance to gain up to seven invites.
From there they have a chance to climb the rankings and secure their status.
On a general point, it has been a disappointing year for so many of our players.
Jon Caldwell did secure his first win at the Scandinavian Mixed in June, but he has struggled to kick on with seven MCs and no top-10s in his last 15 outings.
Cormac Sharvin is heading back to the Challenge Tour after a tough year, although he does have the consolation of some conditional status on the main tour next season.
Hopefuls can’t lug baggage into 2022
It feels as if we have too many players turning pro at the moment and I fear reality is going to bite f