Instead of playing in The Open Championship Laurie Canter watched it at home this year, but the Englishman still feels he has made rapid progress in the last 12 months as he prepares for next week’s English Challenge on the Challenge Tour.
Having successfully negotiated Open qualifying Canter made his debut in a Major tournament as an amateur at St Andrews 12 months ago, and although he missed the cut he relished the experience of competing alongside the world’s best players.
Since turning professional after winning the Spanish Amateur Championship earlier in the year, Canter has received a number of invitations to play on the Challenge Tour and has performed creditably, with a tie for 28th place at the recent Scottish Hydro Challenge his best result to date.
But the 21 year old is keen to make further improvements at the English Challenge, where he will be hoping to repay the faith shown in him and others, such as his fellow Challenge Tour Member Chris Lloyd, by the English Golf Union.
The EGU will be again supporting the €160,000 event, which returns to the stunning Gainsborough Course at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa near Colchester, in Essex, England.
Canter, who signed up with Hambric Sports Group when he turned professional after seeing how they helped other young pros such as Matt Haines, Thorbjørn Olesen and Joel Sjohölm graduate from the Challenge Tour in 2010, said: “The English Golf Union has been very 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, and I couldn’t have developed as quickly as I have without them.
“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. I spent some time in South Africa at the beginning of 2010, playing in lots of events, and at that end of the trip I won the South African Amateur Championship, which allowed me to play in the South African Open Championship in December.
“I didn’t have a great result there but I learnt a hell of a lot. 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.”
Having coped admirably with the transition from the amateur to the professional ranks, Canter has now set his sights on securing a place on The European Tour.
He said: “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 more important to me that I keep learning. But I want to try to finish in the top 45 of the Rankings to get to the Challenge Tour Grand Final, which would give me a shot at getting my main Tour card through the Rankings or at least go 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. I’m very excited about the future. In golf, you always have lots of ups and downs, and you have to learn to accept them because 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.”