Lorenzo Scalise will make his long-awaited professional debut tomorrow at the Kazakhstan Open presented by ERG.
The World Amateur Number 20, who led Team Italy to a top five finish at The World Amateur Team Championships last week in Ireland says he was thrilled to have represented his country but has been marking off the days to his first start as a member of the paid-ranks.
“After I got done with college I did a little countdown to this day basically knowing that when September comes I’ll be pro. I can’t wait to get started,” he said.
“Last week was amazing. We had a lot of fun, and it was so nice to be in contention. When I started the week, I realised I was not just playing for myself, but representing my country at the World Amateur, and it just makes it feel so much better.
“To be in contention, just everything, you don’t get that chance every time, it was a great week. I wanted to turn pro before that, but I’m really glad I didn’t because it was such a cool opportunity and experience.”
The 23 year old comes into the Kazakhstan Open presented by ERG with a healthy amount of success in professional competition.
Last month in Finland, he co-led through 36 holes in his first-ever European Challenge Tour start, and gained valuable experience on the weekend as he ground his way to a tied-12th place finish. He also impressed the home-crowds back in 2015 on the European Tour when he tied for 11th place at the Italian Open.
While many onlookers have high expectations for Scalise, the man himself is determined to stay patient and enjoy his first outing.
“It would mean a lot to do well here, but I think this week is going to be positive, and a week that I’ll remember no matter how I play,” he said. “I’m just trying to look at it that way. As long as I try to follow my game plan and give all my effort on every shot, then if it happens like in Finland, I could be leading after two rounds, that’s great. If not, I just have got to keep working hard and see what happens."
Asked about his goals, the University of Tennessee graduate drew inspiration from his golfing idols.
“Short term, I want to get my European Tour card, let’s just say, as soon as possible, but there’s no pressure on it,” he said. “I know if I do the right things eventually this will happen. Long term, one of my heroes, Justin Rose, just became World Number One yesterday, and I’d like to do the same.
“I just think he’s a gentleman overall. I love the way he prepares. I think he’s a numbers guy, but then has a lot of feel too, so I really like that. His golf swing is one of the best in the world for sure and his overall persona is just a good example.”
The €450,000 Kazakhstan Open presented by ERG begins tomorrow at 7:20 am local time, with Scalise making his maiden professional voyage at 12:10 pm. A win could instantly put him into the top 15 on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah.
“I don’t feel any different — I guess maybe the first time I cash a big cheque I’ll feel different, but that’s not the goal — I just want to play golf.”