In the next part of our Meet the Rookies series, we profile James Busby, whose stunning 11th hour rise into the Challenge Tour’s top 20 completed a remarkable resurgence from a car accident.
James Busby will forever be remembered on the Challenge Tour for his miracle at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, where he entered the season-ending tournament in 45th spot in the Rankings – the last place to qualify – before going on to claim a European Tour card in a career-defining week.
But that was a walk in the park in comparison to his incredible comeback from injuries sustained in a car crash.
Just one month after turning professional, the Englishman was involved in an accident which would keep him out of the game for two years - a setback from which he admits he never believed he would recover.
However, after coming through the satellite Europro tour, Busby provided the story of the 2012 Challenge Tour Grand Final thanks to a tied second place finish, the minimum result he needed if he was to pull off the seemingly impossible and claim a European Tour card at the death.
Understandably, the Telford man was delighted. “It was a shock at the Grand Final,” he said. “I found a swing from nowhere and went on from there.
“The main aim at the start of this season was to keep a Challenge Tour card, just to finish in the top 80. Then when I got into the top 45, the plan was to just enjoy the Grand Final. It has gone from there and I was just gobsmacked with the final week.
“When I was standing over that putt on the last to secure second place all I was thinking was, ‘I hope the feeling comes back in my arms for this one!’”
Busby knows all about battling adversity after the crushing blow of being bed-bound for more than a year soon after turning professional, but claiming a rookie season on The European Tour after such a setback made it all the sweeter.
“I had turned pro a month prior to the crash,” he said. “I never thought I would be back swinging a golf club after that to be honest. But I managed to get back and I played the Europro Tour for four years.
“I managed to have three very good seasons and then in 2011 I qualified for the Challenge Tour. Obviously this year has been absolutely fantastic, just a dream.”
Most golf professionals started playing golf at a young age after being introduced to the game by their parents, but nobody in Busby’s family had picked up a club; it was seeing a friend hit balls in a nearby field that got him interested.
“I started at the Shropshire Golf Centre in Telford and I never really thought about making a career of it until I got to the latter end of my junior time and got down to plus one and then plus two quite quickly,” said the 30 year old.
“I was on the border of getting in the England teams when I was amateur - it was tough competition back then though with Nick Dougherty and his generation - but I am just pleased to see where I am now and hopefully I can have a good year next year.
“I am quite confident now and not a lot fazes me to be honest. I'm quite a steady golfer. I’d like to think I can compete on The European Tour and I hope I can get a better start than I did this year.”
While he quotes his long-time coach Rob Greer as the biggest influence on his career, Busby holds as his sporting idol a rather unlikely figure.
“Phil Taylor (the darts player) is my hero, if you can call him an idol,” said Busby. “It’s the drive that he has to keep winning and dominating the sport like he does, and when pundits put him down he comes back. If you can call darts a sport I think he is the best sportsman in the world.”