VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Matt Ford had to wait a long time to achieve his golfing dreams and the Briton still gets emotional when describing the trials and tribulations he endured before getting his tour card at the age of 36.
Ford twice went close to giving up the game and only six months ago was contemplating the prospect of becoming a postman when he suddenly made the breakthrough he longed for, progressing through Qualifying School at the 10th time of asking.
"I was so emotional when I got my card in Spain and it still dries my throat now just thinking about it," he told Reuters in an interview after returning a four-over-par 76 in the BMW PGA Championship first round on Thursday.
"After 10 years of trying you start doubting yourself and you think of giving up. I nearly gave up twice, the last time about a month before I got my card," added Ford, his voice quivering as he fights to hold back the tears.
The Kent professional was so fed up with making unsuccessful trips to Q School that he had to be cajoled by his wife Suzie into entering again in November 2014.
"I went through quite a few emotions at the end of last year," said Ford who has two young children. "I had to apply for a job in a sorting office because I had no real income.
"I've got a mortgage, I've got bills and my wife doesn't work so mine is the only income. It was pretty scary really but I'm sure other people are like that.
"My wife, at that point, just said have another go at Q School," added Ford. "I said I don't know if I really want to.
"I didn't feel my game was in good enough shape and I was tired of all the frustration but Suzie was great and the last six months have been great."
Ford, who turned 37 last month, has shown encouraging form this season. He was second at the Africa Open in March and occupies 64th position in the money list with earnings of 173,664 euros ($193,201).
Most of the players this week are striving for a place on the leaderboard at the European Tour's flagship event but the Englishman is just happy to be mixing it with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood.
Ford only squeezed into the tournament at the last minute by finishing tied 28th at the Spanish Open on Sunday.
"The top two in the order of merit who weren't already in the field made this week's event," he said.
"There were so many possibilities that I tried not to think about it too much so when I finished 28th it was good enough to get me a spot.
"You can't control these things so you try not to think about it but I can tell you I was very keen to phone the entries department quite soon after everybody had finished to find out if I was in or not."
Ford's voice started to break again as he thanked CK Group Services for their loyal backing.
"My sponsor has been very good. CK Group have been very supportive and with those sort of people behind me..." he said without being able to finish the sentence.
Once Ford had composed himself he explained that his ambitions for his first full season on the main tour were limited.
"From a confidence point of view it gives you so much just to be out here performing with good players," he said.
"I don't have any aspirations to be number one in the world like Rory but if I can keep my card, stay on the tour and get into the top 50, those things are certainly achievable."
($1 = 0.8989 euros)
Editing by Justin Palmer