LAURIE Canter is putting his birthday celebrations aside as he enters the crucial stages of retaining his coveted European Tour card.

The 27-year-old, from the Cumberwell Park club in Bradford on Avon, was in confident mood ahead of the second stage of Qualifying School, which was beginning today in Spain.

Canter, who earned his European Tour playing rights via that route for 2016, then retained them the same way last year, said: “I’ve just been doing a bit of prep at Cumberwell Park, doing the usual practice routines, trying to make the most of some spells of decent weather out there.

“In terms of where my game stands, I certainly feel like I’m a better golfer than I was at this time two years ago, for example, when I got through for the first time.

“Last year was a pretty tough year but I still managed to take the positives quite well into Q School.

“My game has been quite good for the past few weeks. There are some errors I would like to brush up on, like approach play, but there’s a lot of good signs. I feel if I play solid golf like that I will have a good chance, but obviously it’s golf so anything could happen.

“I certainly feel well equipped enough to give it a good shot.”

Canter was beginning his second-stage bid at Campo de Golf El Saler in Valencia over four rounds starting today - his birthday.

“I’m used to not having a birthday because this is five years in a row where I’ve been in Spain,” he added. “It always falls on my birthday and it would be nice to have a birthday at home, but I’ll have a good Christmas.”

Joining the elite on the tour was Laurie’s boyhood dream and nothing has changed since he first qualified through Q School in 2015.

“Obviously, if you want to become the best player you can be, you need to be in the right environment, and the European Tour is the top table on this side of the pond,” added Canter.

“Certainly for me it’s my dream, but equally I’ve had some pretty awesome experiences this year.

“In the last couple of weeks I’ve played five straight rounds playing with major champions and I’ve played the Open at Birkdale.

“I feel like I’m a much better player. Obviously with the nature of golf with Q School, people say ‘this is your life, this is you career’, but I still feel like it’s more of an opportunity than something that’s there to lose.”

Around 80 players will move on from the second stage to the Q School finals later this month, where the leading 25 players plus ties will win places on the main Tour.