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Thursday, 08 November 2012
Chris Paisley (Phil Inglis) ()
Chris Paisley (Phil Inglis) ()

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Chris Paisley has made an impressive start to his professional career, given that, by his own admission, he was “nothing special” when he went to college in America in his late teens.

Having being born into a golfing family, Paisley was a successful junior – he won the Weetabix Great Britain and Ireland Under-13 championship –and decided to take advantage of that by studying for a degree in the United States on a golf scholarship.

Fast forward eight years and he is clutching a European Tour card for next season, having finished 12th in the 2012 Challenge Tour Rankings.

“I can’t wait to get going again,” said the 26 year old, who won the English Challenge in July. “It will be nice to have a little break after a hectic season, but really I can’t wait to play on The European Tour.”

Paisley was one position shy of gaining category ten for next year - which affords better playing opportunities than category 11 - after finishing tied 26th at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, but the Newcastle-based player is just pleased to finally be fulfilling the potential he showed when he made the 2009 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team.

“It does feel like it’s been a while coming,” he said. “A few of the guys who were my Walker Cup team-mates – players like Sam Hutsby, Tommy Fleetwood, and Matt Haines – have already made it onto the Tour.

“I guess I just took a bit longer, but that’s no bad thing because hopefully now I’m better prepared to stay up there.

“It was a natural move for me to start playing golf. I was about eight or nine years old, and my dad and two older brothers were all good players. My dad plays off single figures, my middle brother is a club professional and my elder brother was a four handicapper until he had a family and that took up all his time.

“So it’s a strong golfing family and I was able to get lots of good advice when I was learning the game.

“I played a few national events when I was young, but I was never that great to be honest. Before I went to college I wasn’t anything special. Then I went to the University of Tennessee and started playing well. That was the first time that I realised I could make a career from playing competitively.

“The first couple of years I was doing okay, but during the second half of my time at college I improved a lot. All of a sudden I was contending most weeks and was high up in the rankings.

“I was seeing guys who were a bit older than me doing well, and I knew I was as good as them. You always kind of hope that you can make it, but it was then that I realised I actually had a pretty good chance.”

After turning professional in 2010, Paisley spent the next two seasons plying his trade on the Alps Tour and the Challenge Tour, securing a full playing category for the latter in 2012 by finishing in the top 80 of the Rankings the previous season.

Three victories on the Alps Tour in 2011 gave him the confidence to compete regularly at the next level, and his triumph at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa in Essex this year, for which he won €25,600, made up a large proportion of his €74,485 season earnings.  

“It was a great feeling to win on the Challenge Tour,” said Paisley, who has only one kidney after the other failed to develop when he was born and was removed. “I felt it had been coming for a while, but it was great to get over the line.

“The money certainly came in handy too. I remember getting my first pay cheque in 2010 from a tournament in Strasbourg – it was only about €800 but it felt like a lot. It was the first time I’d won any money so it felt great.

“At the end of last year, I’d done quite well on the Alps Tour and I treated myself to a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones. They are one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. They were about £300 and felt very expensive, but they’ve been worth every penny. It was the perfect treat.”

Paisley had not yet decided what this year’s treat would be, but after such a successful year he would be forgiven for splashing out on something more than a pair of headphones.

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