Golf is a quite unique sport in that there are many routes to the top and Sweden’s Oscar Stark, one of the new kids on the block on the Challenge Tour this season, admits that he has taken the “back door” thus far in his burgeoning career.The 25 year old begins his maiden season on the Challenge Tour in 2014, having gone through all stages of The European Tour’s Qualifying School last year before narrowly missing out on a place at European golf’s top table.
Stark believes it could prove a blessing in disguise, however, as he takes in his first full playing schedule as a professional, which began last month with a tied 29th place finish at the Barclays Kenya Open.
The Challenge Tour is ‘Where Heroes Are Made’ and many of the golfing superstars from his own country – including Henrik Stenson, Peter Hansen and Robert Karlsson – have all come through the developmental tour before going on to great things.
“I'm really looking forward to playing in Europe this year,” said the Gothenburg man. “I'm looking forward to being close to home too because I have been away a lot these last seven years, being in the USA. I think it’s going to be a good mix.
“Most of the Swedish guys out on tour have been around for a while so they have a little bit more experience than I do so I feel like I can learn a few things from them. It’s going to be a good year.
“I went to college at Oklahoma Christian University in the States, for four and half years. We had a really good team and we were in contention for many titles at Nationals. I was fortunate to play well and progress every year.
“I think that has been the key to my success so far and at Qualifying School last winter. It was a really interesting journey from First Stage. I played well in the last rounds of first and second stage, so I kind of took the back door at both stages.
“I didn’t play with the national team as an amateur or anything, so you could say I have taken my own route to where I am now.”
It’s been a long journey for Stark but he has come out of it with bags of confidence, and more than a few stories.
“One guy I played with at University was an Australian called Rhein Gibson,” he said. “He was the guy who shot a 55, the lowest score ever. It was at one of our home courses.
“I think college helped me a lot. It was really nice to get a degree so now I have that, whatever happens. I'm pleased with that too, to get that opportunity.
“To travel the USA and play could not have been better. All the people that I have met down the years have meant so much to me. I am really grateful to all the people who have helped me get this far.”
Stark shares his surname with the alias of the famous movie character, Iron Man, and he is ready to strike while the iron is hot in 2014 as he looks to become Sweden’s next golfing superhero.