Big season on the cards for Keating

Reigning Australian amateur champion Stacey Keating has sealed a player’s card for next year’s European women’s golf tour.

The 24-year-old from Colac in Victoria finished fourth in the LET Qualifying School in Marcia, Spain to be one of three Australians to secure full playing rights.

Stacey Keating at the home of golf - St Andrews Stacey Keating

Fellow Victorian Kate Combes and Rachel Bailey from New South Wales finished in joint 18th place to also gain playing rights.

Queenslander Bree Arthur will have only limited starts after finishing outside the top 30 cut-off list.

Swede Caroline Hedwell fired a superb eight-under par 65 in the fifth and final round of the marathon qualifying tournament to win by nine shots from American Jaclyn Sweeney.

Keating shot rounds of 72-71-75-71-69 for outright fourth spot, 14 shots off the pace.

Hedwell, 21, will now play a full schedule including the tour’s opening events, the Women’s Australian Open at Melbourne’s Commonwealth Golf Club from February 3-6 and the ANZ Ladies Open at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast the following week.

Keating has been a leading amateur for the past three years, winning the Australian and Canadian titles in a star-studded career.

She narrowly missed her European card in 2009 and continued playing amateur golf, representing Australia at the recent World Amateur Teams Championship in Buenos Airies.

Combes, 27, played the European circuit for two years before losing her card and returning to tour school.

Bailey, 30, played collegiate golf in the US before battling for several years on the US Futures Tour and finally deciding to compete in Europe.

She struggled through seven years in the US managing a total of seven top 10 finishes and meagre earnings.