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Five things to know: Robin Tiger Williams 

Five things to know: Robin Tiger Williams 

While it is his famous middle name that immediately creates curiosity, Robin Tiger Williams is making encouraging strides in his professional career and produced his best performance on the global stage as he narrowly missed out on his maiden DP World Tour title at the SDC Championship.

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The 22-year-old South African-born golfer lost out to American Jordan Gumberg in a play-off at St. Francis Links on Sunday, in what was the first of two back-to-back co-sanctioned events with the Sunshine Tour on the International Swing.

Here are five things to know about Williams, who has a fascinating backstory and is already giving back to the game in his homeland.

The story behind the middle name

Williams has the same middle name as one of golf's greatest players, but the story goes that he was almost named after another sporting great. His father was a talented cricket player and suggested Sachin after Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar. But once that idea was dismissed, the family agreed on Tiger. With Williams born the year the 'Tiger Slam' was realised, perhaps the decision was made. Speaking after taking the lead earlier this season at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, he told the DP World Tour: "I've been asked that question a lot throughout my junior, amateur and now professional career, but for me it is just an honour to be named after that man. Big fan, how can I not be? He's probably the reason why I'm standing here and he has opened the doors for millions of guys out there. You could probably ask all these guys that's playing now, probably the reason why they are playing here today is because of him."

Born in South Africa, but raised in the UK

Born in Stellenbosch to South African parents, the Williams family emigrated to Prestatyn, Wales when their son Robin was not even a month old. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph in 2017, Robin explained how he first picked up a club at the age of 18 months and was soon "bitten by the golfing bug". By the age of eight, he was a member at Hazlehead Golf Club in Aberdeen, Scotland, where the family had since moved to. At the age of 10, Williams joined Peterborough Milton Golf Club, the club he remains attached to. Soon after, he was taken to America by his father, Morne, a dentist, in a bid to help his progression as a junior golfer.

Successful amateur career

Williams went on to win multiple America Junior Golf Association titles, while a pupil at Hampton College in Peterborough, England. One of those was the Future Champions Golf World Championship, becoming the first 11-year-old to do so. After later being granted a scholarship at Bishops Gate Golf Academy in Florida, the teenager continued to rack up junior victories stateside as he represented England on the junior and amateur circuits. By the age of 16, he was the top-ranked junior in Europe and made his appearance in a professional event in the British Masters as an invite at Close House in 2017. Speaking then after missing the cut, carding rounds of one-over-par 71 and three over 73, he said: "It was such a fun experience, soak in all the atmosphere and everything, because one day I would like to be on Tour but it was so so fun." A year later, Williams would represent Europe at the Junior Ryder Cup, playing in the same team as the Højgaard twins. He won two points from his three matches at Golf Disneyland in France as the hosts lost to the United States by one point. But for Williams, the highlight of the whole event was meeting his hero Tiger Woods later on at Le Golf National. "You are from Europe, but you hope I go 5 and 0, right?" Tiger joked at the time as he met with players from both sides.

A winner already on the Sunshine Tour

Williams claimed the biggest title of his professional career to date at the Fortress Invitational at Glendower, host venue of next week's Jonsson Workwear Open, in October last year during his rookie season on the Sunshine Tour. Less than two months later, he was thrust into the spotlight when he held the clubhouse lead after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek. “I can always say I shot 65 at Leopard Creek. I’ll always have that,” he said. "This is all a learning curve for me in terms of trying to see what my game needs in order to compete at this level. It’s about learning to handle my emotions and not just my game in these big events.” Since then, he finished in a tie for third at February's Dimension Data Pro-Am, an event co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour. But now, following his title challenge at the SDC Championship, he has hopes of becoming a winner on the DP World Tour and the wider recognition that would come with it.

Helping aspiring golfers in South Africa

Williams is doing his best to support the goals of non-white golfers in South Africa who are struggling to meet the costs of travelling to tournaments, accommodation and other costs that come with playing the sport. After winning his Sunshine Tour card through Qualifying School last year, he and his father came up with a plan with the help of a sponsor to help fund several players after hearing the stories of hardship some were facing in their quest to make it on tour.

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