Luke Goddard has had a rocky start to life as a professional golfer, but the Englishman wants 2012 to be the year he begins to fulfil the potential he showed as an amateur.
The 23 year old represented Great Britain and Ireland in the 2009 Walker Cup and joined the paid ranks immediately afterwards, but narrowly missed out on making it through to the Final Stage of The European Tour Qualifying School.
He relied on invitations in 2010 – eight on the Challenge Tour and three on The European Tour – but made only two cuts from those appearances and found himself without a category for either Tour in 2011.
There followed a period of rebuilding and, determined to show that he could cut it at golf’s highest level, he started again from the bottom, playing on the Europro Tour last season.
“I didn’t have a great season in 2010,” said Goddard, who won the Argentine Amateur Open Championship in 2008 and the English Amateur Championship in 2009. “Having had the chances to make it on The European Tour and play for some big prize funds, it was disappointing to be playing on the Europro Tour the following year. But I think it was a good thing and I improved a lot last season.
“I finished fourth on the Order of Merit to earn a Challenge Tour card for this season. I won once – in the Lingfield Park Golf Championship – and had six other top ten finishes, so it was a successful year. My goal now is to finish in the top ten of the Challenge Tour Rankings to get a European Tour card for 2013. If I play to the best of my abilities, that is well within my reach.”
Goddard is good friends with Walker Cup team-mate Sam Hutsby, who is back on The European Tour this season after coming through the 2011 Qualifying School, having spent last year plying his trade on the Challenge Tour.
“I’ve known Sam since we were teenagers, so we’ve grown up together,” he said. “He progressed more quickly than me initially because he got his card at the Q School in 2009, and he was really unlucky in only finishing one place away from keeping his card in The 2010 Race to Dubai.
“He’s a great player and had a great amateur career. To see him up there doing the things he’s doing is definitely encouraging for me and motivates me to do the same. We’ve always had a friendly rivalry so I guess that never goes away. I think to myself that if he can do it, I want to be doing it too.”
Goddard has made an encouraging start to the 2012 campaign, finishing tied 15th, tied 20th and tied 30th in the first three Challenge Tour events, and believes it is the perfect place to prepare for life on The European Tour.
“I’m pleased with those early results,” he said. “At the last tournament (the Barclays Kenya Open) I played some good golf, but it was very difficult to make a low score.
“Playing on The European Tour and the Challenge Tour in 2010 has given me some good experience, and I know what to expect now. I thought it would be at a completely different level from what I was but it’s not so much that as the depth of players on the Tour.
“If you can win on the Challenge Tour, you can win on The European Tour, without a doubt. But on The European Tour you have so many good players and any one of them could win any week. I’m looking forward to getting back to that level and hopefully a good season on the Challenge Tour will make sure of that.”
Goddard’s next appearance will be in the Allianz Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne from May 10-13.