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Wednesday, 07 August 2013
Brinson Paolini ()
Brinson Paolini ()

Brinson Paolini, the young American who won in just his third European Challenge Tour start two weeks ago, returns to battle at the Norwegian Challenge this week as he aims to follow his compatriots and friends Brooks Koepka and Peter Uihlein to The European Tour.

The 22 year old from Virginia is in his fifth week as a professional and enjoyed a start to life in the paid ranks that he could only have dreamed of.

Paolini arrived on European shores with just one invite, to the Swiss Challenge, and an uncertain future thereafter but a tied runner-up spot at Golf Sempachersee gained him entry into the following week’s event before he claimed a maiden victory in his third start at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge.

After a week back playing on home soil, the former Duke University player returns to action for this week’s Norwegian Challenge at Losby Golf Club, with memories of his victory in France still fresh in the mind.

“It was pretty amazing,” said Paolini of the win at Golf PGA France du Vaudreuil. “I couldn’t have even dreamed of winning in my third professional event. I was just fortunate to get a few chances over here and thankfully I took advantage of it and got a win. 

“I was pretty nervous in my first couple of rounds in Switzerland and when I made the cut I couldn’t believe it. But then I did really well at the weekend and that proved I could play out here and compete. 

“My original plan was to stay amateur during the summer and then go and play Qualifying School but I had been trying to see if I could get some starts over here and I got one.

“I only had one start so it was a risk turning professional when I did but I was fortunate to play well and get into Italy and then France and now I'm fortunate enough to play for the rest of the year. As a pro you just want to have somewhere to play and to know I have somewhere to play this year and next year is huge for me.”

Paolini’s incredible start is just another in a line of success stories from Americans who decide to take the plunge and cross the Atlantic to begin their professional careers on the Challenge Tour. He has seen Brooks Koepka and Peter Uihlein, both now European Tour Members and playing in the US PGA Championship this week, as the perfect inspiration.

“They definitely gave me the inspiration to come over here,” he said. “What Brooks and Peter had done - obviously I had seen how well they did because they are friends of mine - I was just trying to follow in their footsteps. 

“It’s cool to come over and see some pretty amazing places in Europe too. It’s a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to playing five in a row from the Rolex Trophy. I'm going to be travelling around Europe trying to get my European Tour card.”

He visits Scandinavia this week for the first time but he is feeling confident that he can adapt and carry on his hot streak of form.

“I had never been to any of the Scandinavian countries so I'm happy to be here and it looks beautiful,” he said. “It’s very brisk here and really pretty. The course is bent grass too and I love bent grass so that’s great.

“This will be my fifth week in a row but a lot of the guys out here play ten or 12 in a row so I'm still learning how to play week to week and finding out what my limit is but I had a couple of days off before this so I'm feeling fresh and as long as I can take care of myself I can hopefully contend.”

Paolini is one of eight winners from the 2013 Challenge Tour season in the field this week, including last week’s winner at the Finnish Challenge, Stuart Manley, and Andrea Pavan, winner of the 2011 Norwegian Challenge.

Espen Kofstad, meanwhile, returns to the Challenge Tour for the first time since being crowned the tour’s 2012 Number One player after accepting an invite to play on his home course at Losby.


 

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