In the next instalment of our Meet the Rookies series, we introduce Espen Kofstad, winner of the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final and Challenge Tour Number One…
Given that his mother was a European skiing champion in the 1970s, Espen Kofstad might well have carved out a career on the pistes.
Instead, however, he is forging a promising future on the fairways, and will embark on his rookie European Tour career next season after topping the Challenge Tour Rankings with a brilliant victory in the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final.
It was a breakthrough season for the 25 year old from Oslo, who claimed his first professional title in the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open and had five other top ten finishes. Indeed, Kofstad missed only four cuts from 21 appearances on the Challenge Tour in 2012.
While some other players know from an early age that they want to be a professional golfer, for Kofstad it only hit him when he was 20.
“It wasn’t really until the second year of college that I realised I could make a career out of playing golf professionally,” he said. “I went to the University of Denver and in the first year I just kind of went along for the ride. Then I won a tournament the following year and thought to myself, ‘This wouldn’t be too bad’.
“I finished college and then turned professional two years ago at the Qualifying School. From there I got a Challenge Tour card for 2011, and that was a big learning curve for me. I learned a lot, and I started to believe in myself a lot more. I felt very proud of how far I’d come.
“I started playing golf when I was about five. My uncle and aunt played a lot – in fact my whole family played. We would go to play a course in Sweden, which was a little boat ride away from our summer house. The summer house was in Norway, but right on the border, and it was 15 minutes by boat from the golf club.
“I really liked it and I got good very quickly. I played all through my childhood and in amateur competitions in my teens. I played for Norway a few times and twice played in the World Amateur Championships. I also played in the St Andrews Trophy.
“I played a bit of football when I was younger but that was about it. I had a big future in golf so I stuck to that. I used to ski a lot too, because my mum won the European Championships before I was born. I don’t do it now because I’m scared of getting injured.”
That is a sensible approach from Kofstad, who now has much more to lose, having secured access to the potential riches and success of The European Tour.
With the adrenalin still pumping from his marvellous victory in the Challenge Tour’s season finale, Kofstad added: “I cannot wait to start next season – I wish I could get going now. It’s going to be tough, I know that, but I’m going to work very hard and try to enjoy it as much as possible.
“I lucky to do something I love doing for a living, and I think that’s the best way to look at it. If practising and training starts becoming a chore, that’s when you know it’s not right.
“I’m going to enjoy every minute.”