Having been a record breaking amateur just 12 months ago, Daan Huizing is now earning a name for himself as a professional after a tie for second on the Challenge Tour last week in Austria.
The Dutchman is looking to continue that fine form this week at the Bad Griesbach Challenge Tour by Hartl Resort in Munich, Germany, but he is not overawed by the pressure of producing of another strong showing thanks to the success he achieved in his glittering amateur career.
The 22 year old claimed some of the biggest honours awarded to those in the unpaid ranks, winning prestigious titles like the Lytham Trophy and the St Andrews Links Trophy, which he claimed by record margins of 11 and 14 strokes respectively in 2012, before turning professional on his birthday in October that year.
Since then, he has narrowly missed the 72 hole cut in the six round marathon of The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage, before playing with great success on the EPD Tour in Germany in the early part of the year, where he registered nine top ten finishes from just 12 events this season.
Huizing is clearly a talent, and a man in form to boot, so he looks ahead to this week like any other, with the clarity and relaxation of a man who expects to play well.
“I don’t feel very different to last week actually,” explained Huizing. “Last week was a good one for playing and just seeing how it goes at this level, and with that mind set it went quite well, so I will just try and keep it the same for this week.Just play my game, and see how it ends up.
“Professional golf is quite different in a few ways to the amateur game, especially playing towards an Order of Merit where every shot has a consequence, compared to amateur golf where if it doesn’t work well one tournament, then you let it go and move on to next week, which is another chance to win. But here on the Challenge Tour you can’t afford to give away any shots, as come the end of the year it could make the difference, but I think that’s a lot more fun as well.”
As a man who once ranked as high as second in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Huizing is right to be a confident player, but the transition to the paid ranks is not always a smooth one, and being surrounded by better players is proving a great motivation for the Dutchman to ensure he succeeds.
He said: “You see when you look around there are a lot of good players and you know you have to be sharp to have a good result, so in your practice that also helps, to get some good practice in to make sure you’re ready to beat those guys.
“It’s not a case of learning anything out here technically, but last week was a lot of fun because I knew there were a lot of good players behind so I couldn’t go conservative for the last nine holes. You need to keep going because you’re being chased and that’s a lot of fun, it demands more than let’s say amateur golf or the EPD Tour.”
Last week was his first appearance as a professional at a Challenge Tour event, and having clearly revelled in being in contention for the title, it is clear that Huizing is someone to keep an eye on this week and beyond, especially on a course at Hartl Resort that the Dutchman likes as he looks to move up the Challenge Tour Rankings by the end of the year.
“It’s a good course here, you have to think a bit, hit your targets, you can’t just hit driver everywhere. I like the greens too, I think it is going to be a really good course for the tournament this week.
“With last week’s second place I can shift my focus to the Challenge Tour, and the aim this year was to get a full card out here for next year, so that’s the first goal.
“To get in the Rolex Trophy would also be good, and if I play three or four more events then I‘ve got a good chance of qualifying for that. Then I can take it from there, because if you play well there you can make a nice jump. So we’ll see, and I hope I can just play as much as I can on this tour this year, and who knows, if I do well then maybe I’ll have a chance of making the top 15.”
Also in the field this week are former US Amateur Champion Byeong-hun An who came so close to winning a maiden Challenge Tour title at the Scottish Hydro Challenge presented by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts a fortnight ago, narrowly losing out to compatriot Brooks Koepka en route to a tie for second alongside Italy’s Andrea Pavan, who is also playingin Germany.
Three time European Tour winner Nick Dougherty will also tee it up as he looks to regain his best form, while former Russian tennis star Yevgeny Kafelnikov continues to turn his hand to professional golf.