Seve Benson believes that the experience he gained in a tough two years, in which he suffered an injury just as he was finding his feet on The European Tour, will only make him stronger as he looks to get his career back on track on the Challenge Tour this season.
It has been a steep learning curve for the 25 year old since gaining his European Tour card in 2008, thanks to a sixth place finish in the Challenge Tour Rankings in a rookie season which yielded two wins.
The Wentworth Club-affiliated player’s progress continued the following seasonas he retained his card after finishing 120th in The Race to Dubai with the help of two top ten finishes.
But his progress came to a halt when he suffered a slipped disk in his lower back, which ruled him out for almost all of the 2010 season before a difficult return to action in 2011, when he lost his card despite top 20 finishes at the KLM Open and Alfred Dunhill Championship.
This year the Guildford man has high expectations as he makes a return to the Challenge Tour, but knows he may have to be patient after such a debilitating injury.
“I'm just going to try and get the card back and get back to where I want to be,” said Benson, whose Challenge Tour victories in 2008 came at the Piemonte Open and Ypsilon Golf Challenge by Alex Cejka.
“I took the whole year off in 2010 so it took its toll coming back the following year. I found it a bit tougher than I thought because I hadn’t played competitive golf for six or seven months.
“After retaining my European Tour card in the first year my confidence was sky high going into the second year, and then suddenly injury struck.
“It was definitely a blow to the confidence, especially having a back injury which I suffered while playing golf, so putting that commitment back into a full shot wasn’t easy, but I feel like my game is getting better.
“I feel like every part of my game right now is better than it has been. That’s also my goal, to keep getting better and better each year.”
Benson believes he now has experience beyond his years and thinks it will prove vital this season as he plots his way back to the top tier of European golf.
“With golf, it’s never plain sailing,” he said. “But hopefully it’s uphill from here. I've just tried to keep working hard and putting the effort in off the course and that’s all I can ask of myself.
“If I keep getting better and better, working with my coach, working hard and staying patient, these are the only things I can ask for and if I don’t get to where I want to get then fair enough, at least I’ve put the effort in.
“I’m full of confidence coming to the Challenge Tour, having been here before and done well, and my experiences have definitely helped me to mature. It’s just about knowing what you need to do and not panicking in tough situations.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that I know my game is good enough. I just need to stay patient and not beat myself up; not let me beat me and if I can do that I think I’ll be alright. It’s not always easy to do that, but it’s definitely one of the things I’ve learned.”
Benson travels to the Barclays Kenya Open next week after a mixed start to the 2012 season, which began with a c tied ninth place finish at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in January before a tied 62nd finish at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic earlier this month.
He will be joined by a strong field which includes his club-mate Nick Dougherty, who finished tied fourth at Country Club de Barranquilla in Colombia on his Challenge Tour debut.
Philip Archer, who showed nerves of steel in winning his third Challenge Tour title in Colombia, also travels to Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, in search of his fourth victory while Max Kieffer will be hoping to rediscover the form he produced for his victory at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in January, having missed the cut in Colombia.
Michiel Bothma of South Africa will return to defend his title alongside compatriots Tyrone Ferreira and Justin Walters, who will be hoping for success on the Challenge Tour’s only visit to African soil in the 2012 season.