Englishman Laurie Canter has only been playing golf for seven years, but today he is celebrating turning professional and preparing to make his European Challenge Tour debut at the Mugello Tuscany Open.
The 21 year old left school three years ago with an ambition to follow a career in golf, but even he did not anticipate the subsequent meteoric rise which featured appearances in two national opens and a Major Championship.
Born and raised in Bristol, Canter said: “I guess you could say I’ve had a fast progression in golf. I only made the England squad at the end of 2009, and that was just the developmental squad.
“Then I spent some time in South Africa at the beginning of 2010, playing in lots of events, and at the end of the trip I won the South African Amateur Championship, which allowed me to play in the South African Open Championship in December.
“Then I came back and had a string of good results at home - I won three or four strokeplay events, such as the West of England Stroke Play. Then I qualified for The Open last summer and after that I played in the Eisenhower Trophy and the St Andrews Trophy at the end of the year.
“This year I won the Spanish Amateur Championship and it felt like the right time to take the plunge and turn pro.
“I’m very excited about the future. I feel like my progress has been pretty fast. In golf you always have lots of ups and downs and you have to learn to take those and it forms how you are as a golfer. I feel like I’ve been able to take the downs well and deal with them, and that’s probably one of the reasons I’ve been able to make fast progress, because I haven’t been too hard on myself. I’m still learning, and just because I’ve turned pro now doesn’t mean I stop learning.”
Canter believes a three-month spell in South Africa was the turning point in his burgeoning career, when he went from a promising talent to a champion.
“I travelled all over the country playing all the amateur events I could play, sort of having my own mini tour,” he said. “It was great fun and I’d recommend it to anyone.
“A lot of the lessons I learnt there will hopefully help me with this transition to the professional game – being on your own and having to learn about courses you’ve never played, all that kind of stuff.
“I did A Levels at school and then had to make a decision. I wasn’t in the England squad when I first left school and I had no support other than my parents but luckily my dad said he’d support me for a couple of years to play golf.
“Luckily that year I had a good enough year to get in the England squad. The English Golf Union has been really good to me. I haven’t been a part of their system long, but the last 18 months they’ve supported me and sent me away around Europe. That’s what they’re good at, preparing players.”
Canter played in the Open de España last week as a result of winning the Spanish Amateur Championship this year, and he said it was an event of mixed emotions after the death of Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros on Saturday morning.
“The Spanish Open last week was my third professional event and it was a surreal atmosphere,” he said. “I was in the players’ lounge on the Saturday morning eating breakfast and I could see José Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jiménez crying their eyes out at the next table. It was crazy to think a man like that has died so young and the tournament definitely went very flat over the weekend.
“My generation I suppose just caught the back end of Seve’s career, but I was late to golf – I didn’t start until I was 14 – so I never saw him in his pomp.”
Ballesteros, of course, won The Open Championship three times, and Canter described his own experience in the tournament last year as “unbelievable”.
He said: “I didn’t have a great result there but I learnt a hell of a lot. It was the same in South Africa as I got to play with Retief Goosen which was amazing. So I’ve been very lucky in the last year and have had a lot of chances to learn. That’s been key for me – getting to play in those different environments and having to prepare and being under a bit of pressure. I feel a lot more comfortable now playing under pressure.
“I have fixed goals – the main one from this transition is to learn as much as possible this year. I’m not putting any pressure on myself in terms of getting results, it’s just important to just keep learning.
“I want to get in the top 45 which would allow me to get to the Challenge Tour Grand Final, which would give me a shot of getting a card through the Rankings, or at least get through to the Final Stage of the Qualifying School.
“I just want to play as well as I have done in the last year, and hopefully that will give me a chance to be up there in a couple of events, and from there we’ll just see how it goes.”
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