FORMER Bridlington Golf Club member Rachel Bell has earned her full tour card for the 2011 Ladies European Tour.
A ninth-place finish at the final qualifying school secured her spot and rounded off a successful year for the 28-year-old.
Needing only a top 30 fnish at La Manga, she defied the conditions with rounds of 75, 72, 76, 72 then a three-under par 70 on the South Course on the Sunday afternoon to finish as the highest ranked UK golfer.
She said: “The irony was that the weather was so bad at home in the two weeks before qualifying school that I didn’t play at all, just went to the driving range and practiced putting on a putting mat in the lounge.
“But when I got out to Spain, the weather at La Manga was only four degrees for most of the tournament and it was pretty windy.”
Bell joined the Belvedere-club at the age of 11 and stayed there for seven years before moving on to Ganton Golf Club.
Last year saw her first professional tournament win at the Madrid Masters on the Spanish Banesto Tour in May.
She is now deciding whether to start her 2011 season in Australia next month or wait until the tour hits Morocco at the end of March.
For now, she is just enjoying the messages of congratulations she has received after her achievements in Spain.
Bell said: “I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the number of texts and emails I’ve received.
“While I was out there playing I was in a bubble all week, but as soon as I came off the course after shooting three-under in my last round, my mobile phone went crazy.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet how many people were following my scores live online over in the States, across Europe and at home.”
Bell, who lives in Driffield, hopes her second crack at the European Tour brings more luck than the first.
After a spell studying in America on a golf scholarship and representing The University of Southern California in Los Angeles, she earned her first tour card in 2008.
But her first season was cut short when she contracted glandular fever.
She said: “Getting ill two years ago was pure bad luck, but it benefitted me in so many other ways.
“It’s a bit of a cliché to talk about the journey being more important than the destination, but my journey has been a real adventure.
“I’ve worked really hard with my coach, David Llewellyn over the last 12 months to get my game in good shape, so earning my card has been a real team effort and a very welcome Christmas present for all of us.”