Just how do you succeed in this mind-mangling, bamboozling, capricious game? In many ways, golf can be a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. And there’s possibly an extra riddle, an additional wrapping of mystery and a bit more enigma.
Some are always looking for some kind of E=Mc2 formula in an effort to fathom out a route to golfing glory. Others are constantly seeking that Eureka moment but never do. It’s probably a good thing. You couldn’t have golfers leaping from their bathtubs and wildly careering about in the scuddy after finally cracking the amateur-to-pro transition.
Here at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in Gullane, there are winners as far as the eye can see. Our very own Russell Knox is one of them.
In the wake of his thrilling triumph in the Irish Open last weekend, the Invernesian has arrived in East Lothian feeling somewhat jaded but sporting a permanent, gleaming smile that looks like he’s just signed a sponsorship deal with Colgate.
Knox, who tees-off today in the company of Ian Poulter and Masters champion Patrick Reed, has put in the hard yards down the years and he continues to reap the rewards of his labours.
After a largely modest amateur career, the 33-year-old has beavered away through the mini-tours of the US and is now firmly established as global champion of considerable worth.
Drive, discipline, mental fortitude, a bit of luck? Whatever it is, Knox has it. Just don’t ask him what ‘it’ actually is.
“I just got jammy,” he said with a smile when asked about it. “Maybe that’s why I got here? To be sitting here takes a lot of luck, a lot of hard work and obviously a lot of talent as well. I ask myself all the time, ‘why me?’
“Why was I the one that was able to do it and all these other guys who are equally as talented, or if not more, why did they not make it. There’s no answer to that.”
Success in this sport is certainly not guaranteed so you have to savour and celebrate those moments when they come along. Then again?
Colin Montgomerie always said that he was never one for celebrating individual victories as he was scared that he wouldn’t win again. The sense that this might be his last drove him on. Knox has a different outlook on this very individual pursuit.
“When I won on the Web.com Tour a few years ago, I didn’t realise how hard it was to win a professional tournament,” he said. “I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. I’ve now played almost 200 tour events and I’ve won three times. I’m definitely going to enjoy every time I can finish first.”
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a successful touring pro and Justin Rose, the 2014 Scottish Open champion, continued the theme as he reflected on his formative years in the paid game 20 years ago.
Most folk know the story; the talented teen who finished tied fourth as an amateur in the 1998 Open before turning pro and missing 21 cuts in a row on the European Tour.
It was the kind of grisly introduction to the frontline usually reserved for a rookie marine attempting a beach landing under heavy artillery fire but Rose became battle hardened, earned his stripes and became a multiple winner and major champion.
For those starting off on the journey, Rose can provide plenty of pearls of wisdom. “I tell a lot of kids who are turning pro that as long as you are improving year on year, then that’s all that matters,” he said.
“There were definitely times when I was doubtful but I tried to take what I achieved at the Open completely out of the equation. I just said to myself, ‘forget Birkdale, if I work hard, things are going to be okay’.
“I just put my faith in that. I also had the mentality that if I missed the cut by seven one week and missed it by four the next then at least I was improving.
“Rather than beating myself further into the ground I was able to create enough momentum to turn it around.”
So how do you succeed in this game? Ask Knox and Rose. They have both worked out the riddle.
Source : HeraldScotland