The younger Arnold, a former European Challenge Tour player and winner, is among 13 Australians competing at Mission Hills Haikou where the Sandbelt Trails Course is hosting a second successive 72-hole, no-cut qualifier.
The top-15 finishers this week will earn full cards and the next 25 and ties will be conditionally exempt for a Series that rewards the top-five money winners with places on the Web.com Tour, the path to the PGA TOUR.
He held a full European Tour card in 2013 but didn't retain it and played on the European Challenge Tour from 2014. In 2015, he tied for 40th at The Open Championship in July and won the Challenge Tour’s Cordon Golf Open in France in September.
Scott Arnold at last year's NSW Open.
However, in July 2016, a year after his major championship debut, Arnold had an eye operation in Australia and didn’t return to full-time tournament golf until May 2017 when he began a run of six missed cuts on the Challenge Tour that drained his resources and self-belief.
“Because of the eye, I was out for 10 or 11 months. I still had conditional status on the Challenge Tour but only went back in May and just played a few events. I wasn’t enjoying it, sort of ran out of money, so I packed my bags and went home to Australia. I’d had enough,” said the Sydney-based 32-year-old who still holds a PGA Tour of Australasia card.
“I’m now looking for a different avenue, trying to get to America, and PGA TOUR China looks probably the best way to get there at this stage. Hopefully I’ll get through this week and play in China this year, and then move to America and start making my move up there.”
Arnold admits that he’s also hoping to reignite his passion for golf in China, where his brother Jamie, now 34, played the PGA TOUR Series-China in 2014 and for much of the following year. Jamie secured his Web.com Tour card for 2017 through Q-School, retaining it by finishing 52nd on the money list.
Jamie was the leading Australian on the 2017 Web.Com Tour and has made considerable progress with his game since focusing much of his attention in the US in recent years and although yet to reach the PGA Tour he highlighted his improvement with good finishes in events on the Australasian Tour late last year.
Their respective world ranking shows Jamie now some 1400 places ahead of Scott but this week and hopefully a path to the Web.Com Tour in 2019 could change that for the former Australian Amateur Champion Scott.
“My brother played PGA Tour China and liked it, and if I’m going to be at home in Australia, it’s convenient for me to play up here. The money’s good and there are five Web.com Tour cards up for grabs. The bigger picture is the top-five and moving on from there,” said Arnold who said he won’t be trying to get back on the European Challenge Tour.
“I was travelling for eight years and in the bubble of just playing and practicing, so it was hard being out for 11 months and not being able to touch a club. When you have that much time away from golf, you think about yourself and whether you really want to do it. I’ve been playing okay, so maybe a fresh scene and something different will get the spark back.”
The other Australians in the field are Jerram Chudleigh, Jordan Cooper, Theodore Coroneo, Mitchell Davis, Jichul Jung, Murray Lott, Peter Martin, Michael Pearce, Jonathan Pepper, Sean Underwood, Simon Treeby and amateur Sam Earl while Australian-based New Zealander Campbell Rawson is also looking to advance his cause.
This week’s field comprises 120 players from 21 countries and territories including the U.S. (29 players), South Korea (27), Chinese Taipei (13), Australia (13), Japan (11) and U.K. (six).
EDDIE PEPPERELL - COMPLETE PUTTING DRILL
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