While he may be teeing it up in the Old World, it will be a whole new world for Aaron Cockerill.
The 27-year-old, who hails from Gunton and Stony Mountain, has earned his European Tour card for the 2019-20 golf season after finishing in a tie for fifth place in the final stage of European Tour Q-School in Tarragona, Spain on Nov. 20. Over six rounds of play, and with his parents in attendance for the final round, he finished with a score of 16-under par, nine strokes behind leader Benjamin Poke of Denmark.
The top 25 players and ties (28 in all) all earn full status into what is considered to be the second-best professional golf tour in the world. Cockerill is believed to be the first-ever Manitoban to gain membership into the European Tour and is expected to be its only Canadian-born player. The last Interlake golfer to attain similar heights was Selkirk’s Glen Hnatiuk, who competed on the PGA and Nike (now Korn Ferry) Tours in the late-1990s and early-2000s.
“Thank you to everybody who has helped me on this journey over the past couple years. So many hours, and so much has gone into this,” Cockerill wrote on his Instagram account after clinching his berth.
A Stonewall Collegiate Institute graduate, Cockerill competed for the school’s golf team before playing the University of Idaho Vandals for four years. He was named Golf Manitoba’s Player of The Year in 2010 and 2013 as well as winning the provincial junior men’s championship in 2010 and the provincial men’s match play title in 2012 and 2013.
After playing on semi-professional mini-tours in the United States, Cockerill played three full seasons on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada before entering European Tour Q-School in 2018. In three European Tour events last season, he made the cut in two: the Australian PGA Championship (tied for 19th) and the Magical Kenya Open (tied for 57th). On the second-tier Challenge Tour, he earned three top-10 results and finished 48th in its Order of Merit.
“We are extremely excited and thrilled for Aaron and his recent accomplishment in obtaining his European Tour card,” Golf Manitoba executive director Jared Ladobruk wrote in an email to The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times. “To do what Aaron has done, to excel at the highest level in golf, is an incredible feat and speaks to his talent, work ethic and commitment to becoming a world-class athlete.”
Shawn Coe, the head professional at Teulon Golf and Country Club where Cockerill was a member, was also proud of his accomplishment.
“He has worked on his golf game very hard and I’m glad to see it has paid off. I wish him all the best on the European Tour, I will be watching and cheering him on,” Coe wrote in an email.
Cockerill did not have much time to reflect as he began his European Tour season in Malelane, South Africa at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, which took place from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1. He shot four-over par over the first two rounds, missing the cut by one stroke.