Connor Syme's strong start to European Tour season helped by no longer feeling 'burst' on a Thursday

Connor Syme certainly hasn't been putting his feet up on the Red Sea coast over the past few days, but he has learned how to conserve energy for big tests like this week's Saudi International.
Connor Syme is among nine Scots teeing up in this week's Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf Club in King Abdullah Economic CityConnor Syme is among nine Scots teeing up in this week's Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf Club in King Abdullah Economic City
Connor Syme is among nine Scots teeing up in this week's Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf Club in King Abdullah Economic City

"I was almost burst by a Thursday trying to get myself prepared," said the 24-year-old of his rookie campaign on the European Tour two seasons ago, when he fell agonisingly short in trying to hold on to his card.

"I was hitting so many balls and trying to do so much before a Thursday, when you really need to be fresh and also for a Sunday, so preparing and planning for tournaments was definitely one of the biggest things I learned out here first time around."

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Syme, a former Australian Amateur champion, secured his seat back at European golf's top table by earning one of the 15 cards up for grabs on last season's Challenge Tour, where he won the Turkish Airlines Challenge.

He's hit the ground running on the top circuit this time around, finishing 11th in the Alfred Dunhill Championship, ninth in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open then 22nd in the South African Open in his three starts so far.

"I was thrilled to get back out here and it was nice to get off to a pretty positive start this time around," he said, having posted sub-score scores in his opening 12 rounds of the new campaign.

"Last time, I missed my first four cuts, so it was important to get off to a good start, which I have managed to do by playing some solid golf in my first three events."

In addition to that triumph in Turkey, Syme recorded another five top-10 finishes on the Challenge Tour last season to secure a main tour card along with compatriot Calum Hill.

"The category I had last season would probably have got me into 20 events on the European Tour, but I decided to go back to the Challenge Tour," he added.

"It was only my second year as a pro and I was thinking about giving myself a chance to learn to win and compete regularly in events.

"It's tough when there are only 15 cards on offer each season, so being at the top end of leaderboards a lot during the season was definitely a positive."

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After missing out in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai over the last two weeks, Syme was delighted to found out on Sunday that he'd joined eight other Scots in the field this week at Royal Greens Golf Club.

"We were relying on two or three people to pull out of here for me to get in and, with this being the last of three events in the Middle East, there was always a chance that would happen and I found out on Sunday that I was in," said the former Australian Amateur champion.

"The lists for Abu Dhabi and Dubai barely moved at all. I knew I wasn't going to get into either and, after failing to qualify for Dubai, I decided to go home for 10 days. I'm off to Australia next week, so it was good to break it up a bit by spending some time at home."

Syme is part of a strong contingent this season, as illustrated this week by the fact he is joining Bob MacIntyre, Grant Forrest, Stephen Gallacher, David Law, Scott Jamieson, David Drysdale, Richie Ramsay and Calum Hill in flying the Saltire at an event being played in King Abdullah Economic City.

"There's a lot of spurring going on out here at the moment, with the Scottish boys and also the Modest guys getting a few wins and Christiaan Bezuidenhout just missing out the other day," he said of his management company.

"It's great. It's boys you grew up playing with who are doing well and that can only be a good thing."

As part of that Modest! Golf management stable, Syme is enjoying the support he gets from Niall Horan, the former One Direction band member, who set up the company.

"He is very busy with his music stuff just now and is releasing a new album shortly. But I caught up with him a few times over Christmas and he certainly loves his golf," said Syme.

"Bizzarely, I went to New York with my girlfriend and he was performing on Saturday Night Live, so we got to see him on that, which was good."