Sam Bairstow finding his feet on DP World Tour after transition from successful amateur to professional - Articles (2024)


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Sam Bairstow finding his feet on DP World Tour after transition from successful amateur to professional


Ahead of the Asian Swing resuming this week with the ISPS HANDA - CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan, we catch up with Sam Bairstow as he aims to maintain his form in his rookie season on the DP World Tour.

By Mathieu Wood

Sam Bairstow remembers the moment the often-cruel existence of being a professional golfer hit home. Just over a month into life in the paid ranks, the Englishman was feeling the pressure as he tried to make a cut at the DP World Tour's Qualifying School.

Sam Bairstow finding his feet on DP World Tour after transition from successful amateur to professional - Articles (1)

Sam Bairstow turned professional two months after completing four rounds at St Andrews in the 150th Open Championship as an amateur

It was the morning of the fourth round of the final stage at Infinitum, Spain, in November 2022. Bairstow was sitting in a tie for 37th, with the top 70 and ties making it through to play the final two rounds of the gruelling six-stage tournament.

For some, it is a chance to earn back status on the DP World Tour and for others it is about trying to earn a rookie season on golf’s global tour. Bairstow was in the latter camp.

After a successful amateur career, during which he represented England and GB&I in prestigious competitions, won the Brabazon Trophy and qualified for back-to-back Open Championships, he was now playing for his livelihood.

Having already made it through the second stage of Qualifying School, those who made it past the fourth round earned the security of a full card on the European Challenge Tour.

"I was listening to a podcast with Luke Donald and what he said resonated with me quite a bit," Bairstow tells the DP World Tour.

"He went to (PGA TOUR) Q-School straight out of college and he was about to get his card at Final Stage but said if he didn't get it then he didn't have a job for the next year.

"I remember feeling the same ahead of the fourth round because you had to make the cut to get any sort of card."

Amid the high stakes, Bairstow kept his composure to card a two-under-par 70 to progress through to the final two rounds. While he was unable to go on to finish in the top 25 and ties and thereby receive a coveted DP World Tour card, he had secured a pathway to try to get there the following year.

But things didn't initially go to plan. In front of the support of friends and family, he missed the cut - his fifth of the campaign - at the British Challenge presented by Modest! Golf Management in Cornwall, but it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Just a week later he claimed his breakthrough victory at the Farmfoods Scottish Challenge supported by the R&A at Newmacher Golf Club in Aberdeenshire.

"I had my parents at St Mellion and a few other people had come to watch," he recalls.

"I bogeyed the last to miss the cut by one. [With hindsight], it was probably the best thing for me going into the week in Scotland.

"I managed to get home and see a couple of coaches. I had a swing lesson on the Sunday in-between and I felt like everything seemed to click. I went to Scotland with quiet confidence, even though I had missed the cut the week before.

"While it wasn't a links course it did have a linksy feel. I love links golf and I always seem to play well in links conditions. That helped and set me up for a good week on the whole."

Sam Bairstow finding his feet on DP World Tour after transition from successful amateur to professional - Articles (2)

Bairstow carded a six under par final round 65 to win the Farmfoods Scottish Challenge

With the victory, it opened up the possibility of finishing in the top 20 of the Challenge Tour's Road to Mallorca Rankings, a position which would earn him promotion to the DP World Tour.

But even with two further top 20s, Bairstow arrived in Spain for the Grand Final on the outside looking in, only to deliver under pressure with a tie for fourth securing status on golf's global tour.

A par at the last for a round of 71 👏

Sam Bairstow has clinched his 2024 DP World Tour card, having started the week outside the graduation spots. #RolexGrandFinal

— Challenge Tour (@Challenge_Tour) November 5, 2023

"Looking back it was a big year for me, just learning about the travel and everything that comes along with it." he says.

"I feel comfortable on the DP World Tour because of the year on the Challenge Tour."

And, 12 starts into his rookie season on the DP World Tour, confidence is soaring in Bairstow.

Ahead of back-to-back events in Japan and China, he lies sixth on the Asian Swing rankings - with a host of rewards for a strong finish to the swing on offer, including an exemption into next month's U.S. PGA Championship for the top three.

"I think I have been playing quite nicely all year, [so] it was nice to see a couple of good results.

"After three rounds in Bahrain and Qatar I was around the top 10 but couldn't quite [find my best] in the final round. There has obviously been some progress since, learning from those two weeks. Results in Singapore and India have certainly been a big confidence boost for me.

"I feel my game is in pretty decent shape so if I get to Japan and China and the courses suit my eye then hopefully I can put together one or two more good results and finish in the top three [on the Asian Swing rankings."

🇨🇳 Volvo China Open

How it stands on the Asian Swing with two events to play.

— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) April 17, 2024

Bairstow is one of several players from Yorkshire competing on the DP World Tour, with Dan Bradbury and Alex Fitzpatrick, who won his first Challenge Tour title at St Mellion a week before Bairstow, both known to him from the amateur scene.

"Prior to playing in South Africa at the start of the season, I hadn't seen Dan Bradbury for ages," he explains. "It'd probably have been when we were 16-17. Now I see him almost every week.

"I know Alex Fitzpatrick quite well as well. We live 20 minutes away from each other so seeing some familiar faces certainly settles you. I play practice rounds with them and have dinner so it doesn't make you feel like you are away from home as much as you are."

Bairstow trains at the Pete Cowen Golf Academy in Rotherham, having forged a partnership with coach Nick Huby for the last eight years.

"If I go to see him, it is as much a lesson as it is an opportunity to chat about how I'm feeling," he said.

"It's a lot easier I think when you know your coach in that way where they can still be pretty hard on you."

And with renowned coach Cowen, who has worked with a host of Major champions, often around to give some advice, Bairstow feels fortunate with the support network around him.

Sam Bairstow finding his feet on DP World Tour after transition from successful amateur to professional - Articles (3)

Solo third at the Porsche Singapore Classic was Bairstow's best finish so far in his rookie DP World Tour season

Regarded as one of the longer hitters on Tour, Bairstow believes it is another facet of his game that has made particular strides so far this season.

"My putting has definitely got a lot better (Bairstow is ranked in the top 20 in several putting categories)," he says.

"I have putted pretty well every week and then in Singapore and India I hit the ball a lot better so was putting more for birdie which showed with the results."

Having started the DP World Tour season outside the top 450, his run of three consecutive top 20 finishes has lifted him inside the top 200 and a career-high ranking.

While he isn't a goal-setter but instead more results-focused, Bairstow does have big ambitions.

"It would be great to get into the top 100 and then the top 50," he explains.

"Obviously that is hard but if you have a good year this year and manage to get one of the PGA TOUR cards then I think that is very doable over the next two to three years."

With that in mind, he will hope he can emulate the success of fellow Challenge Tour graduates Matteo Manassero and Jesper Svensson so far this season.

"I played with Jesper when he won in Holland last year and he was impressive to watch," he says.

"It was obviously great to see Matteo win again. It shows that the Challenge Tour guys are definitely as good as what is on the DP World Tour."

Whether Bairstow does go on to win his maiden DP World Tour title this year remains to be seen, but there is every evidence that he is finding his feet among the best on the international stage.

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Features Jesper Svensson sets U.S. PGA Championship target as Swede bids to maintain momentum in Asia By Mathieu WoodJesper Svensson has his sights set on making the most of the upcoming two-week stint on the DP World Tour as he targets a Major Championship debut at the U.S. PGA Championship through one of three spots available on the Asian Swing rankings. Apr, 18 2024
Sam Bairstow finding his feet on DP World Tour after transition from successful amateur to professional - Articles (2024)
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