Matt Haines (Getty Images)
Promising youngster Matt Haines makes his professional debut in this week’s Mugello Tuscany Open keen to make the step up from a decorated amateur career.
Englishman Haines has seven invites on the European Challenge Tour during which time he will seek to establish himself on the professional circuit after representing Great Britain and Ireland in last year’s Walker Cup.
The path from Walker Cup to European Tour Champion has been a well trodden one in recent times and the 20 year old hopes to become the latest off that particular production line after making the cut in Tuscany following two consecutive rounds of 70 to launch his professional career.
As the second youngest member of the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Team in 2009, Haines is already looking towards the success of his teammates Sam Hutsby and Dale Whitnell as a template for his own immediate career goals.
Haines’s victory in the Spanish Amateur Championship saw him become the third Englishman in four years to win that particular title - following Hutsby, John Parry and Danny Willett – and prompted his decision to join the paid ranks.
“Before I turned professional I asked a few of those guys if I was making the right decision and they felt it would improve my game,” said the Kent player.
“I had been going to see how the first couple of tournaments went in the year but then I was lucky enough to win the Spanish Amateur and I got a good offer from CSS Stellar and it was too much of a decent deal to turn down.
“I’ve got seven invites on the Challenge Tour and we will see how well I do with these. Maybe I might get a couple of European Tour events as well but as long as I’m playing that’s all that counts.
“It’s good experience to play with the professional guys and see what the standard is. You look at Sam Hutsby and Dale Whitnell doing well and you want to get out here and try it yourself.”
Haines’ strong showing in the opening two rounds of the Mugello Tuscany Open should give him a platform on which to build on over the course of his debut season on the Challenge Tour.
“It’s my first tournament and I just wanted to put in a solid performance,” he said. “The first two rounds I was happy with how I played but I didn’t make many birdies – the par putts kept seeming to go in but I missed the birdie ones. It’s good to be here on the weekend though and hopefully I can press on from here.
“All the amateur game is on Links courses – there are only a couple of courses like this that we played but I prefer this kind of course.”