Daan Huizing knows the road to the European Tour well. He knows how difficult it can be to navigate, and he knows how elusive the destination is.
At 27 years old, the former World Amateur Number Two recently began his fifth season on the European Challenge Tour at the Barclays Kenya Open. He shot four consecutive one under par rounds of 70 to finish tied 28th — a steady result, but one without the electricity the two-time Challenge Tour winner has shown he can produce.
Take for example, the Foshan Open last year. The Netherlands native carded an opening round of 66 and a final round of 68 — on his birthday — to finish tied third.
“Midway through last year I got it going a little bit and had some good finishes. I knew I needed some good results in those last few tournaments and I was really close in China,” Huizing said.
It was his second top five of the season and would be one of four top ten finishes in 2017. That body of work left him as the 22nd ranked player in last year’s Challenge Tour Rankings and painfully close to a top 15 promotion to the European Tour.
“There were a couple of shots that cost me quite a lot there, but overall I’m just heading in the right direction and that’s the most important thing.”
The finish in China, along with the rest of the 2017 season, hint that the Dutchman may be returning to his best.
In Huizing’s rookie season, he won back-to-back events and added four top ten finishes on the Challenge Tour in 2013 — ending the year sixth in the Rankings and earning his European Tour card.
Then 23 years old and playing a full schedule on the European Tour for the first time in 2014, Huizing struggled to find his way —recording four top 20s in 29 events and missing 14 cuts.
Now, the seasoned professional can easily identify the subtleties and nuances that make or break a round, a week or a season.
“You see the ways the best European Tour players go about their business. You see how easy they make it look,” he said.
“Its very easy to make it hard, but its hard to make it simple.”
With the Challenge Tour set to return to China, the Dutch talent says his mind is in the right place.
“I’m more at peace and better able to put things together on the course,” he said. “That’s what it’s about in a tournament. You can practise all you want, and you can hit it great or you can putt well, but you’ve got to put something together and make a score on the day itself.
“At this level, performance is based on how you’re behaving mentally. We all swing it well and we all hit good shots and good putts. Its about putting it all together.”
The former amateur standout will have his next chance to ‘put it all together’ at the Belt and Road Colorful Yunnan Golf Open — the first of three events in China on this year’s Challenge Tour International Schedule.
Kunming Yulongwan Golf Club in Yunnan Province, China will host the event. The €350,000 prize fund is one of the largest of the campaign, which means that a strong finish will go a long way to securing a top 15 ranking, and a European Tour card, at the season’s end.
“It’s about growing through the season building yourself up every day and every week,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve won a tournament. I just want to win golf tournaments, which will lead to getting my European Tour card.
“I feel like I’m good enough and I’m ready. It’s just a matter of showing that.”