Graeme Storm on the "absolute torture" of losing his European Tour card months before beating Rory McIlroy

The Englishman got a reprieve before defeating the four time major winner at the SA Open

Graeme Storm, golf,

England's Graeme Storm in action during Day Three of the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond Golf Club, Loch Lomond. Picture by Lynne Cameron PA Archive/PA Images

On Sunday, Graeme Storm beat four time major winner Rory McIlroy in a tense playoff to claim victory at the South Africa Open.

But if things had panned out differently, the Englishman wouldn't have even been teeing off at a European Tour event.

The 2016 season had left him in a predicament as the 38 year old had come close to losing his European Tour card ahead of 2017.

Fortunately for Storm, he retained it after US golfer Patrick Reed failed to fulfil the requirements to maintain his own card.

"It was really difficult to take after the end of last season when it looked like I thought my card by €100 and to get in through the back door and get a reprieve from the European Tour because of Patrick Reed not fulfilling his numbers to keep his membership, that was a massive relief and a new lease of life for myself," he said.

But he also described the period between losing his European Tour card and getting it back as "absolute torture" and even had to consider the possibility having to sell the family home - which fortunately did not occur. 

As for beating McIlroy in a first head to head battle in his career, despite knowing the Northern Irishman for 10 years - and all the attention that has followed - Storm described the last few days as truly "surreal" but a "great feeling all the same".

"When it came to the playoff and it was just me and Rory, I just had to stick to my strategy and just hope that I got the breakthrough and it managed to pay off. But obviously, playing against arguably the best player in the world Rory McIlroy, you've just got to kind of hang in there and hopefully the bounce and luck goes your way. And it managed to for me on Sunday," he said.