KEN Ferrie is planning a major assault on the US tour after winning his card in some style in Florida.
The 29-year-old from Ashington came through the gruelling six-round qualifying school at the Orange County National resort, closing with a five-under-par 67 to clinch joint 14th spot and a prized ticket to the multi-million dollar US Tour.
"Winning my card was tough but to say I'm happy with how I did at the qualifying school in Florida would be an understatement," said the former European Open and Spanish Open champion.
"My plans for this year are flexible at the moment and I'm going to play it by ear but my main goal has to be to try and keep my card for the US Tour - that has to be my priority.
"That doesn't mean I intend to forget about Europe but I do have my exemption in place from my European Open win so the focus is probably going to be to do well in the USA first.
"I have play a minimum of 15 tournaments in the USA and I have play at least 11 in Europe if I want to figure in the European Order of Merit, but it won't affect my membership of the European Tour if I plays less than 11. I just won't figure in the order of merit if that happens but I'll still be a member of the European Tour and eligible for the following year's tournaments.
"In a perfect world, I would hope to play both tours and do well enough over in the USA to keep my card and then play in Europe, but my main priority has to be in the USA next year."
Ferrie could struggle to play much in Europe if he doesn't get into the Majors and WGC events. Without those, fitting 15 US tour events wouldn't leave much room for Europe.
"I'll spend the first couple of months this year in the USA and then take stock and I'll take a re-check every couple of months and decide what I need to do. I know its Ryder Cup year but that's at the back of my list at the moment. However, you're only one good week away from being up there in the rankings and it then does come into play.
"I feel I need the new challenge of the US tour. I wouldn't say I've been bored the last two years in Europe, but I do think I've become a bit stale doing the same tournaments and the same things. I need to challenge myself and when I do that, I often do well and seem to be able to produce when I need to and that's what I've done this past week. It will be exciting going to different tournaments and different places in the USA and I'm really looking forward to it."
Ferrie played solid golf for most of the week but it loooked as if he'd left too many chances out there, but he was always in touch and in the final round, he came through the field with 67.
"I was glad to get to the final round as it had been a long week and I finally put a good round together. I made six birdies and one bogey on the front nine as I hit the ball close to the flags.
"I made two bogeys on the par threes and picked up two more birdies to finish my round at five under par, 16 under for the tournament and I moved comfortably into the top 25 and at the end of the day finished in a tie for 14th and the result I had come for, my USPGA tour card."
Ferrie was quickly back in the North East to celebrate his success and was at Matfen Hall to hand over the money raised in his charity golf event.
Ferrie is Matfen's Touring Professional and to assist with his fundraising activities the club provided the course for the Ferrie Foundation ProAm golf day, which raised £12,500.
With Sir Hugh Blackett, owner of Matfen Hall, Ken presented two cheques to his 2007 chosen charities - the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Some 17 teams played in the Ferrie Foundation ProAm.
Ferrie said: "I would like to thank Matfen Hall for providing the course, the people who played and those who helped to plan the day. As a result these two extremely worthwhile causes will each receive a cheque for £6,250 and I really do
hope that this money will make a difference to local people."
Ferrie is coached by Matfen's director of coaching, John Harrison, who was delighted with his protege's performance in the US.
He said: "In the ten rounds of golf played he was a total of 24 under par, which is a pretty amazing result."
Harrison, who has mentored Ferrie for the last 16 years, added: "It is fantastic for Ken to secure his Tour Card and for Matfen Hall and the North East of England to have this golfing ambassador flying the flag in the US.
"I always knew Ken had the ability to make it to the top in golf. His main aim in 2007 was to secure the US Tour Card and I knew he'd get it because when he sets his sights on something he normally gets it!
"I am really pleased for him and know that he will continue to be a fantastic ambassador for Matfen Hall and this will certainly take his career to a new level."