KEEPING a level head is working a treat for Jordan Smith and despite his rapid ascent in the golf world, the Derry Hill star’s coach Simon Shanks sees little point in changing a winning formula.

Bowood Golf & Country Club pro Shanks diverted from the end of a family holiday to accompany Smith to North Carolina, but the hectic schedule was worth the hassle as the Wiltshire man delivered a stunning major championship debut by finishing tied ninth and top British player at the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow on Sunday.

While the 24-year-old’s rise towards the top of the game - his PGA appearance coming a fortnight after his debut win on the European Tour in his maiden season - caught many off guard, for Warminster’s Shanks, it has been more than a decade in the making.

“Everyone is saying it’s been a quick thing (rise), but for me it’s been 10 years and people have only just started to take notice,’’ he said.

“I’ve worked with Jordan for 10 years and it’s just a case of slowly getting everything better every year really.

“It wasn’t the case at the start of the season that we said ‘you’ve got to be better at this’.

“It was saying let’s keep improving every area of the game as much as we can and he’s been doing that.’’ Two years ago Smith was still making his way on Europe’s third-tier EuroPro Tour, having turned pro after a top-level amateur career which saw him play for Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup - amateur golf’s version of the Ryder Cup.

His astonishing progress saw him win the EuroPro Order of Merit that year and sweep through the second-tier Challenge Tour - again topping the rankings - to win his card for the main European Tour this season.

Far from making cautious progress, he mixed it with Rory McIlroy at the BMW South African Open in January and maintained consistently good results before landing his first top title at the Porsche European Open in Germany last month, earning him a place at the US PGA - his first major.

“I was actually driving off on holiday on the Saturday night before the Sunday (of the European Open) and I said to my wife that I would put my passport in and golf kit just in case he does win (in Germany) and get into the PGA,’’ said Shanks.

“Luckily enough I did that so I had to go down from Suffolk to Heathrow on the following Sunday to get a flight to Charlotte.’’ Shanks found himself overseeing his charge’s preparations in some stellar company on the Quail Hollow range.

“There are worse places to hang around - it was brilliant,’’ he admitted.

“There were guys I’ve spent my coaching careers looking up to - David Leadbetter and Butch Harmon - and to be stood feet away from them doing their job while I was doing mine felt fantastic really and a big step up.

“There’s no way you could prepare for being in this situation really. It’s very much go with the flow.

“It’s very boring but if you start changing the experience for Jordan, you start making it uncomfortable for him.

“We all stayed together in a house in Charlotte and it kept everyone happy and Jordan relaxed.’’ He added: “The golf course (Quail Hollow) is unbelievable. I’ve never seen greens so quick with that sort of slope around them.

“The rough around the greens was really difficult and you could see how you could make a bogey without making a massive mistake.

“Luckily Jordan drove the ball very well, hit lots of fairways, found lots of greens and gave himself lots of birdie putts and, on the last day, in particular the short game came in, he made lots of up and downs at vital times.

“I think if you’d stood there at the start of the week and said ‘top 10’ I think he’d have bitten your hand off. It’s fantastic.’’

More from Shanks on Smith’s progress and the team around him in next week’s Gazette & Herald