Woodsome Hall's Chris Hanson looks to improve his driving in Porsche Open

Woodsome Hall's Chris Hanson.
Woodsome Hall's Chris Hanson.
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A RECENT torrent of birdies has helped Woodsome Hall’s Chris Hanson climb inside the top 100 in the Race to Dubai rankings in his debut season on the European Tour.

But an even more recent deluge – of rain in Germany – could deny him the chance to add to his recent earnings, which have increased sharply his chances of retaining his playing privileges for 2017.

Three consecutive top-20 finishes – including a tie for eighth in the KLM Open in Holland – have swelled his Race to Dubai points tally by almost 100,000 to close to 250,000.

One more solid performance should guarantee he finishes the season inside the top 110, all of whom will be guaranteed a place on next year’s Tour, but he flew from Italy to Bad Griesbach in Bavaria to find the Porsche European Open course waterlogged after rivers close by burst their banks.

“The rumours flying around and the pictures the players have been sharing, you wonder if there is going to be an event this week,” said the 31-year-old.

It would be the second time he has been thwarted by rain, for on Saturday he was only a couple of shots back of the leaders halfway through his third round when play in the Italian Open was suspended because of bad weather.

He came out on Sunday morning and played the back nine in three over, but showed a usual degree of composure that has served him so well this season by closing with a two-under-par 69 for a share of 20th place.

“I was doing okay halfway through the third round, and I probably had a little bit of momentum after birdieing nine,” he recalled.

“But it’s hard to say whether I lost that momentum through stopping. I guess it’s something I’ll never really know.

“I came back out on Sunday and played 10, 11 and 12 okay. But I hit a decent drive down the next and then just hit a bit of a sloppy shot in and short-sided myself, but until then everything was fine.”

His high finish was achieved in spite of minor struggles with his driving.

He commented: “I didn’t drive the ball well all week and maybe in the first two rounds got a bit lucky with lies in the rough. I hit some very strong shots out off the rough and took some good chances.

“I didn’t quite drive it well enough over the week to have as many birdie chances as I would have wanted, but overall it was a fantastic week and top 20 in the Italian Open is another good achievement.

"My driving, it's never miles off line, but on the European Tour if you're 10 yards off line and missing the fairway it's costly; it punishes you, and you can struggle to reach the green in two.

"My driving is not miles away, but I feel that it could be a little bit better and I've got a few days this week to put in some work on that and hopefully this week it will be a lot better."

With the course in Germany definitely closed on Tuesday, and possibly Wednesday as well, Hanson says he will use the time to work on his driving in the hope that the competition does get underway as planned on Thursday, when prize winnings amounting to €2m will be up for grabs.

He has played at Bad Griesbach three times on the Challenge Tour and knows the course well - and has played it well, too, finishing third there on one occasion.

Hanson's impressive debut has seen him make 16 out of 19 cuts this season. One of the three missed, in the Australian PGA, saw him come up short by just one shot after immediately journeying to the other side of the world having won his card at last November's Qualifying School.

He has moved from 631st to 339th in the world rankings, an improvement of almost 300 places.

"That's a cool little stat to keep improving on really," he said, before adding: "The world ranking system is very complicated though.

"Maybe it's quite accurate with the top players in the world, but it's more suspect down the line where there's players who've won four or five times on the development tours and they're above me in the rankings when I've been playing on the European Tour all year.

"But it's a nice thing to keep an eye on and hopefully it keeps you going in the right direction."

After Germany, he plans to play the Fiji International - unless a sponsor's invite opens the door onto a place in the Alfred Dunhill Open.

"I'm on the list for Fiji, which I can definitely play in, but it's the same week as the Alfred Dunhill event at St Andrew's and I don't know what will happen," he said.

"I'd much rather be at the Dunhill if there was the potential to do that, but invites are out of my control."