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GOLF: Tour debut is a shot in the arm for Smith
JORDAN Smith believes his performance at last week’s European Tour event in Austria proves he will be able to hold his own when the time comes to turn professional.
The Derry Hill amateur, 21, delivered four consistent rounds of golf to finish just outside the top 30 at the Lyoness Open, having been handed an invite to the event by his management company MB Partners.
Bowood’s Smith, who featured for Great Britain & Ireland against the USA in last summer’s Walker Cup, outshone the likes of two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal to make the cut and finish level par at the Diamond Country Club.
Smith returns to amateur duties at the British Amateur Championships in Northern Ireland next week but despite remaining in the unpaid ranks for the time being, is hoping for another crack on the big stage before the season is out.
“My main aim (in Austria) was to try and make the cut and I did that and went on to do pretty well,’’ he told the Gazette & Herald.
“Anything else was a bonus. You had to be quite steady and patient because the rough was really thick and there was a lot of water.
“I learned that I have got the game to compete against these European Tour players and I know I can do it.
“Hopefully I might be able to get one or two more invites (to professional events).
“There are a lot of important amateur events coming up so it would be great if I’m able to fit it in but hopefully I’d like to be able to do one more.’’
The performance in Austria has put Smith, coached at Bowood by Simon Shanks, back in a good frame of mind ahead of the British Amateur at Royal Portrush and Portstewart, which gets under way on Monday.
Smith, who was travelling to Ireland today for practice ahead of the event, said: “I’m feeling a lot more confident after last week.
“I’d had a hard couple of weeks before. My form wasn’t great and I managed to crash my car.
“It’s a big event and I want to try and do as well as I can in the top amateur events.’’
With a place in next month’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, as well as likely invites to next year’s US Open and Masters also up for grabs for the winner, the championship is one of the highlights of the amateur calendar.
The 288-man field will be cut to the top 64 after the opening two days of strokeplay on each course, followed by seven matchplay rounds.
Marlborough’s England U18 champion and fellow Wiltshire ace Ben Stow, who qualified for last year’s Open Championship, are also in the field.
Smith, who will also defend his England amateur strokeplay title (Brabazon Trophy) later this month, tees off at Portstewart on Monday alongside last year’s quarter-finalist, Italy’s Renato Paratore, who is ranked 17th in the world.
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