JORDAN Smith hopes his current experiences at the top end of professional golf can inspire him to success in the major amateur competitions this summer.
The Derry Hill player, 21, was teeing it up alongside some of the continent’s finest today after being handed an invite to the European Tour’s Lyoness Open in Austria.
Smith, who made his Walker Cup debut for Great Britain & Ireland last summer, had the likes of two-time Masters champion and 2012 European Ryder Cup captain Jose-Maria Olazabal and fellow Spainiard Miguel Angel Jimenez alongside him in the 133-strong field at the Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg.
The Bowood ace also competed alongside established pros at the recent European qualifying event for this month’s US Open, at Walton Heath in Surrey, ahead of a summer campaign in which he hopes to target the top amateur prizes.
Smith told the Gazette & Herald: “My management company (MB Partners) got me an invite and you have to take these when you can.
“It will be my first European event and I look forward to mixing it up with the best players in Europe.
“There are a lot of famous faces here. When I went into the clubhouse to have something to eat the other day, Olazabal sat next to me.
“This invite should give me some much needed experience for when I decide to turn pro in the near future.’’
Smith hit form earlier on this season when he lifted the prestigious Hampshire Salver, with the British Amateur Championship in Northern Ireland later this month one of the major targets on the horizon.
He added: “I struggled a bit recently at the US Open qualifier and the Scottish (amateur strokeplay championship) but it (the qualifier) was awesome to experience what it would be like to play in a proper Tour event.
“The British Amateur is coming up soon and ideally, winning one of those major events would be the aim. The Hampshire Salver was a good start to the season and I want to keep things going.’’
Smith was playing alongside Sweden’s Peter Hedblom and home player Moritz Mayrhauser in Austria today.
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