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Player Blog: Richard Mansell
Player Blog

Player Blog: Richard Mansell

In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Richard Mansell looks ahead to his second Major Championship appearance at the U.S. Open, reflects on his successful amateur career and why he is full of self-belief as he targets securing full playing rights on the DP World Tour.

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The U.S. Open is renowned for being as tough a test of golf you can play. The fact that I am playing my second Major is not a shock to me. I do feel like it is where I belong. I hope my good form and the confidence that has brought can serve me well at Brookline. I am hearing there could be crowds of around 80,000 a day. If that is the case, then I cannot wait. I love pressure, I feel like it brings out the best in me and enables me to focus better. 

Finishing tied third at the Porsche European Open in Germany was probably as good a preparation you could have in Europe for a U.S. Open. The scores at Green Eagle Golf Courses showed just how tough a course it is. My game feels in great shape. I didn’t shoot over par that week and I know the U.S. Open requires good ball striking - that tends to be the strength of my game. I am excited to go and compete against the world’s best. I played at college in America, but it will me first time playing there as a professional.

I am a Category 17 member on the DP World Tour, after finishing outside the top 122 on last season’s Race to Dubai Rankings, which means I get into a limited number of events this season. I have had one missed cut this year on the DP World Tour at the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa in March, when I was forced to withdraw through an injury. I haven’t finished lower than a share for 35th in my eight appearances on the Tour this year and I have started to play better, particularly in recent weeks. Before my top-five finish in Germany I also registered two top tens at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett and the Dutch Open. 

Once I got into the Betfred British Masters at The Belfry at the start of May, securing one of the ten spots on offer for the U.S. Open via 2022 European Qualifying Series became a goal of mine. I finished tied eighth and playing well across the other three qualifying events (Soudal Open, Dutch Open and the Porsche European Open was all I was focused on. I knew that if I could get into a Major Championship with my limited starts, which means I am unlikely to get into the Rolex Series events, and then perform well where a lot of DP World Tour Ranking and Official World Golf Ranking points are up for grabs then it can really help me with securing my full playing rights on the Tour. The pressure of putting together a good week in Germany, around probably the toughest course we play at on the Tour, to get into the top ten on the European Qualifying Series was something that I relished.

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A lot of people asked me at the start of the year whether I was going to focus on the Challenge Tour and try to get one of the 20 cards. But I have always wanted to play at the highest possible level. I decided that I would take advantage of every tournament on the DP World Tour that I got into. I know that I am good enough to win on the main Tour. The best advice that I have had throughout my career from some of the best players is to always play in the best tournaments that you get into. That is the mindset I like to adopt and as a result I tend to play better when I am playing against the best. Now I have been rewarded to play in my second Major and it comes at a good time because I am in some good form.

I changed putting coach ahead of the Betfred British Masters and that led to a few changes which has reaped some rewards in recent weeks. My play on the greens really let me down last season. My old caddie, Connor Winstanley, who I had for my first three years as a professional, was back alongside me at The Belfry so he’s had a positive impact! I have been excited to have him back on the bag. I am also lucky this year that my fiancée Ellie can travel with me. It has just made things so much easier. I really feel like I have got a good team around me. As a result, I am a lot happier off the course which is obviously helping me on it.

When I played on the EuroPro Tour in 2019 I wanted to treat myself as if I was a main Tour player and be used to having a caddie. I spoke to former Tour player Chris Hanson, and he introduced me to Connor. He came on the bag, and we did well together on the EuroPro Tour and then went on to do well on the Challenge Tour. I qualified for my first Major at The Open Championship last year through Final Qualifying at Hollinwell during my first season competing on the DP World Tour. I parted ways with Connor towards the back end of last year and we have now been back together for the last month or so.

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Playing at The Open last year in my first Major was unbelievable. I made the cut on the number and my mentality on the Saturday was to just go out, enjoy the day and see what happens. I hated that mindset. I played awfully in the third round because I didn’t have any daily personal goals. I have learned a lot since then and feel a better player. In my first year on Tour there were no fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic which was disappointing so to then qualify for The Open where there were going to be huge crowds was amazing.

The 150th Open at St Andrews is certainly something every golfer wants to play in so qualifying for that is in my agenda. I think it would be a great achievement to get my full Tour card which I believe is almost locked up now. If I can just maintain the form, I have shown in recent weeks then my world ranking will just continue to improve from there.

Going to play college golf in America was a real learning curve for me. I went to Nova Southeastern University in Florida aged 18, having been used to my parents doing all my washing, getting home from school, doing my practice, and having my dinner on the table. You go from that to being on the other side of the world on your own and you have to grow up quickly. I had no other choice but to mature, otherwise I would not have been a success. Ultimately, it rested on my shoulders. Nobody else could do the work for me. I had all the facilities, the sunny weather, and the coaching programme to assist me but from there it was down to me.

I had a good college career and was selected for the Arnold Palmer Cup in 2017. I roomed with Viktor Hovland that week as part of the European team. Viktor and some of the guys on the USA team like Collin Morikawa and Sam Burns, who I beat that week, have gone on to great success since then. I am not at the level of Viktor, Collin or Sam right now, but I have improved my results and I know that my game is good enough to reach that level. That is not me trying to come across with a big ego, more so voice my confidence in my ability. I am not in a rush to get to where I believe I can but when I get chances to compete on the biggest stages, such as the U.S. Open, I am hopeful I can take them.

I have always had self-belief in my ability since I turned professional in 2017. A mindset that I adopted on the EuroPro Tour in 2019 was that despite not being a top ten player in the world there was no reason that I could not try to be one in my preparation. That mindset I believe helped me to secure my Challenge Tour midway through the EuroPro Tour season in 2019. My progress was paused by Covid. However, we are very fortunate to do what we do as professional golfers. A lot of people would dream of our livelihoods. At the time of the Covid-19 pandemic there were bigger issues than golf, so it made me certainly sit back and appreciate where I was. I just tried to use the break to improve on my mental game.

I know there are a lot of guys on the Tour who have been to Qualifying School and got their card through that pathway. That was not the case for me. I went through the EuroPro Tour after College because I missed my first year of Q School, so I learned my trade there. After moving on to the Challenge Tour, the Covid-19 pandemic happened. We were told that there were going to be five cards available for the main Tour in my first year on the Challenge Tour. I managed to get one of those cards, so I got the best of a bad situation. That meant last year I was going to have limited starts compared to what you would get for normally finishing fourth on the Challenge Tour. I played quite well last year, just unfortunately didn’t have the big results during the season. I made lots of cuts and felt as though I played well enough to secure full playing rights, but I didn’t because I was only getting into the smaller events.

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I think it would be a great achievement to get my full Tour card. If I can just maintain the form, I have shown in recent weeks then my world ranking will just continue to improve from there. I have only played around 20 Tour-level events and I am yet to experience the Rolex Series events. I want to get into those bigger events on a regular basis going forward and use that as a platform to show everyone just how good I am.

I know that I am on an upward trajectory. It sounds simplistic but ultimately it is about getting better year in year out, rather than look to make enormous leaps. The mindset of incremental gains is what I have done so far in my professional career, and I am confident I can continue to do so. I am now playing in Majors so something must be going right! It is an exciting time personally.

I look at Justin Rose’s career as a source of inspiration. At the start of his career, success didn’t come immediately, but he went on to become World Number One and a Major champion. I don’t see a limit to how far I can go. I have got some big personal goals and have every confidence that I am going to fulfil them. When that is I don’t know but I just want to keep pushing myself.

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