By Nick Totten, europeantour.com
From Golf & Spa Kunetická Hora
One man who seems to have found his feet on the Challenge Tour in 2014 is former amateur star Wallace Booth, who is putting together an impressive run of results after a disappointing maiden campaign on European golf’s second tier.
Brother of Ladies European Tour star Carly, the Scot posted the best result of his career last week at the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda thanks to a blistering round of 64 on the final day that saw him finish in a tie for seventh.
After an opening round of 73 in the torrential rain of Thursday at the D+D REAL Czech Challenge, he admitted to thinking he might need to get an earlier flight after a disappointing opening nine on Friday. His fortunes turned on the back though as he romped home in just 30 strokes thanks to four birdies and an eagle on the par five seventh.
His five under par 67 had him narrowly outside the top ten after 36 holes at Golf & Spa Kunetická Hora, but ideally placed to improve on his performance in Austria on this form.
It has not always been plain sailing for Booth who, after a glittering amateur career struggled with injury, and then his confidence, as he entered the paid ranks. After some hard work over the winter he is feeling much more positive about his game, and now he knows what to expect on the Challenge Tour, his sophomore season looks like being much more productive.
“Last year I didn’t know what to expect,” admitted the 27 year old, who attended Georgia Regents University in America. “I probably listened to too many people and didn’t just do my own thing, trust in my game or believe in myself as much as I should have. So I made a promise to myself this year, that I will do that, and so far it has been a pretty solid start.
“I missed the first four events of the season with my category, but since coming back in Turkey I’m delighted to have made the three cuts so far, and it is starting to come together. My game is very close to being very good, and it is just a case of rolling some putts in, which I did today and it makes the game a lot easier.
“Last year was just a learning experience, as I was very fortunate to finish top five on the EuroPro Tour the year before, because I had been out for two years with a shoulder problem, which needed an operation. So for me to make that step up right away was a huge bonus, but maybe I wasn’t quite ready for that, or have enough belief in myself and in my game at that point.
“I stayed at home this winter, as I usually go back to America, but I knuckled down and got in the gym, got some strength back, and worked as much as I could on my game. It also added a little bit of adversity to it, given that it was cold and, although it was a mild winter for us back home in Scotland, it is still not conducive to good practice. Maybe that helped me grind it out a bit more, and get more out of my game.”
It certainly seems like Booth is back on the right path after his exemplary turn in the amateur ranks, having represented Scotland at the Eisenhower Trophy in 2008, as well as in the European Team Championships the following year.
He also played for Great Britain & Ireland in defeat at the 2009 Walker Cup at Merion, host of last year’s US Open Championship, but he would be struck down by an injury to his shoulder shortly after.
“I had a labral tear, which side lined me as it got to the point where I couldn’t grip a golf club, it was that bad. So the surgery needed to be done, and unfortunately it was missed in 2010 when I had the MRI scans, and when I got another opinion in 2011 the surgeon who operated on me found the tear.
“Unfortunately it was April when he did it, so if it were January I might have got the last bit of the season – although probably not considering how long it took me to recover – but these things happen for a reason so hopefully that is all behind me now and I can move up the ladder.
“It was a shame that it happened when it did, as I was on a high after being part of the Scotland team that won the Eisenhower Trophy in 2008. I also played in the European Team Championship in 2009 and made the Walker Cup that year too. So I was feeling quite good and excited to start my professional career, then I just hit a brick wall.
No more doom and gloom though for a man who is seemingly exuding his new found confidence through some particularly spiffing trousers, the kind that might make John Daly blush.
If you are going to tailor yourself quite so brashly, you better have the game to back it up, and thankfully for Booth it looks like he has just that.“Now I feel good. I’m excited to be sticking to the plan, and believing in myself, and it is slowly coming. These trousers are just a bit of fun, they are very comfortable, and they make you stand out. Hopefully my golf will do the same going forward.”