I grew up in Morpeth, where I played both rugby and golf to county level. But at the age of 16 I represented England in golf and from there on in, golf has been the sport for me.
I also played golf for England Under 18s and this was when the University of Tennessee offered me a golf scholarship. My four years at the University of Tennessee have really developed me as a person and a golfer. The system and support they have for coaching, psychology, fitness and nutrition have really helped me develop my all round golf game in preparation for turning professional. I have travelled and played golf all across America and had the privilege to represent Tennessee in three NCAA Division 1 finals. It has been extremely hard work, but very rewarding.
In amateur golf I have been fortunate enough to have played for England Men’s team in the Home Internationals. It will be something I will always remember especially in 2011 as I was undefeated and England regained the trophy. I was also selected for the England Elite Men’s Squad and the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Squad. This culminated in representing GB&I against America in the Walker Cup (2013), against Europe in the St Andrews Trophy (2012) and representing England in the World Team Championships (2012) for the Eisenhower Trophy.
2013 turned out to be an outstanding final year as an amateur. My ‘hot’ streak started in May with a runner’s up finish in the Welsh Amateur at Royal Porthcawl. This was closely followed a week later by my first major victory in the Scottish Amateur at Southerness. However, this was all surpassed by my victory in the British Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports where I defeated Toni Hakula (Finland) 6&5 in the final. The first Englishman to win in ten years meant I played in The Open Championship at Muirfield and then The Masters in 2014. I signed with International Sports Management and turned professional immediately following my last amateur event at The Masters.
My first season as a professional saw me visit numerous countries across Europe and the Far East. The highlights included winning my first professional event at The Astbury, Shropshire on the Europro Tour. Whilst on the European Tour I had my first top 10 finish at the Real Czech Masters in Prague. I graduated from Q School having reached the final stage, which meant I earned a Challenge Tour status for 2015.
The Challenge Tour is a very tough school, with very good players competing. Whilst I failed to enter the winners circle in 2015 I did achieve four top ten finishes out of 18 events and placed 48th on the Road to Oman. Ultimately, this was to be three places short of automatic entry to the final tournament in Oman and the third stage of Q School. However, based on this position I did secure category 10 status for the Challenge Tour again in 2016 and I was able to choose from all the events.
2016 was another successful golf season for me on the Challenge Tour. I almost entered the winners circle finishing second in the Red Sea Egyptian Challenge and furthered this performance with three more top ten finishes throughout the season. One highlight of the 2016 season was my 61 (11 under) to record a new course record in the final round of the Slovakia Challenge at the Penati Golf Resort. I was out in the second match of the day and recorded nine birdies, one eagle and eight pars to eclipse the previous record of 63 by two shots. My eagle came at the European Tour’s longest hole, the 15th, which is a par six of 783 yards.
My consistent performances in 21 events meant that I played in the Grand Final in Oman where I finished seventh. This led to an eventual Road to Oman ranking of 30th. Although I demonstrated progress from 2015, I ultimately fell short of securing a top 15 ranking and a European Tour card for 2017.
2017 saw me compete on the Challenge Tour again, coupled with three European Tour events. In one sense, it was very successful as I secured my first win on the Challenge Tour at the Prague Golf Challenge. I shot 66-67-64-67 (24 under) to record my lowest tournament score over four rounds. This was followed by a 7th placed finish at the Italian Challenge where I shot 67-67-65-68 (17 under). However, inconsistency over four rounds and a couple of injuries meant that I ultimately finished 37th on the Road to Oman.
2018 saw a similar schedule to 2017, with my play predominantly on the Challenge Tour interspersed with five European Tour starts. Consistency was evident on the Challenge Tour with 76% of cuts made from 17 tournaments. Ultimately, I did not achieve enough top 10 finishes in tournaments which led to me finishing 70th in the Challenge Tour rankings. However, there were a lot of positive signs and the work being done with my new coaches John Harrison at Matfen Hall on my swing and with Andy Paisley at Hexham on my putting will stand me in good stead for the 2019 season on the Challenge Tour.
2019 was a year of ‘final qualifying!’ Whilst I played well throughout the year on the Challenge Tour I ultimately finished 56th on the Road to Mallorca rankings. However, despite not making the top 15 I did qualify for the European Tour 2020 through final Q School at Lumine Golf Club, Spain. I had progressed through stage two at Desert Springs Golf Club, Spain after finishing tied 17th and then qualifying in a six-man playoff for four spots.
In the final stage event I shot six rounds under par 70-71-70-68-68-67 (-14) to finish tied 13th and guarantee full European status for the 2020 Tour. I cannot describe the emotional ups and downs I went through during Q School. It's a tournament that dictates how your whole year/career can turn out, but to play that well under those circumstances shows how far I have come.
My other highlight of 2019 was undoubtedly qualifying for the 148th open Championship at Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland. I won final qualifying at St Anne’s old Links with a score of 67-67 (-10) and secured entry into my first major as a professional.
Having gained my European Tour card, my 2020 season started with a bang and an 11th placed finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in South Africa. One of my favourite places to play golf. A series of missed cuts followed and then in March, Covid-19, lockdown and the bubble became the key words. The 2020 schedule stopped for over three months.
Resuming golf with the UK Swing in July, I found some form to finish 22nd at the English Open at the Forest of Arden. However, my best golf of the season came at the Scottish Championship at Fairmont St Andrews in October. I shot 66-69-66-71 (-16) and my relaxed attitude all week helped me to finish 4th, the best result I've ever had on the European Tour. I felt so comfortable that final day playing in the last group. I took so many positives from that week.
I finished 145th on the Race to Dubai and I am very fortunate to be in the position of keeping my card for the 2021 season. It’s almost been like having a taster year out on the European Tour before the real show begins.
There are exciting times ahead. I have always found throughout my career so far that every shot counts and there is always someone better than you are, so it is just about doing that little bit more every day.