Connor Syme up for Challenge after ‘sore end’ to his 2018 season

Connor Syme is among 10 Scots in the field for the Turkish Airlines Challenge, which starts on Thursday at Samsun Goilf Club on the Black Sea coast. Picture: Getty Images
Connor Syme is among 10 Scots in the field for the Turkish Airlines Challenge, which starts on Thursday at Samsun Goilf Club on the Black Sea coast. Picture: Getty Images
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Connor Syme has shrugged off a “sore end” to his first full season in the pro ranks and is ready to keep the Saltire to the fore on the Challenge Tour.

The 23-year-old is among 10 Scots in the field for the Turkish Airlines Challenge, the first regular event of the season on the second-tier circuit, which is being held at a new venue this year, Samsun Golf Club on the Black Sea coast.

Syme could have been playing instead in this week’s European Tour event, the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, but, in his attempt to secure a proper foothold back on the main circuit, he has decided to concentrate on the Challenge Tour this season.

“The category I am in is difficult,” admitted the Fifer, who came up agonisingly short in his bid to hang on to his main Tour card at the first attempt as he finished 126th in last year’s Race to Dubai.

“I’d obviously love to be playing on the European Tour, but it’s not as easy as that. You can never really say you are going to play here or there or in this or that.

“On the Challenge Tour, I can plan a whole season for myself and I’m looking forward to it.”

Syme, who is part of pop star Niall Horan’s Modest! Golf stable of players, was on course to retain his seat at European golf’s top table after finishing runner-up in the Shot Clock Masters in Austria last June.

He then shot a 62 at Gullane in securing another good pay-day in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open only to pay the price for missing the cut in four of his final six events of the season.

“It was a sore end to what was a good first year,” admitted the Drumoig man. “The realistic goal was to keep my card and to come so close was hard. Twenty thousand points more and it was a brilliant year, so it is hard to be disappointed.

“I know where had to clean up as I missed too many cuts. I got away with it a bit at the start of the season and was in a good position. But, at the end, I was trying to set my target a little bit too high.

“My swing just got a little bit away from me and I had to do a bit of work on that over the winter with my dad Stuart, who is my coach.”

Last season, four Scots - Grant Forrest, Liam Johnston, David Law and Bob MacIntyre - finished in the top 15 on the Challenge Tour money-list to graduate to the main circuit, where Law won the Vic Open earlier this year

“The Scottish success on the Challenge Tour last season was good and the goal is to emulate those boys,” admitted Syme. “It is going to be a tough challenge as there as so many good players out here, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Calum Hill, a winner in Northern Ireland last season, is also in the field for this week’s €200,000 event, as are Bradley Neil, Ewen Ferguson, Craig Ross, Jack McDonald, Duncan Stewart, Craig Howie, Scott Henry and Chris Robb.

“It’s lovely,” said Syme of the new venue. “It’s got a linksy feel to it off the tees. It doesn’t play as fiery as a links course, but it’s a really good track.

“There’s a few driveable holes but precision off the tee is going to be the key this week.

“I’m just looking to build my season. I’ve got three events in row and it would be great to have a chance come Sunday.”

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