Mentor brings James Morrison back from brink of quitting pro golf

England’s James Morrison has revealed he considered quitting the game after struggling to handle the grind of tournament golf.

Morrison won the Madeira Islands Open in 2010 and the Spanish Open in 2015, reaching a career-high of 80th in the world rankings later that year.

However, the 34-year-old has failed to record a top-ten finish in the last two seasons and has also had off-field issues to deal with, meaning he started this week’s Scandinavian Invitation a lowly 942nd in the rankings.

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“It’s my tenth year out here in a row now and this has been not about golf, it’s about everything else,” said Morrison after an opening 66 at Hills Golf & Sports Club which left him four shots behind leader Wade Ormsby.

“Tour life’s getting a chore, travelling’s getting hard. I’ve got a little boy (Finley) at home, my wife’s having some health problems and had surgery two days ago so there’s stuff at home going on that’s taken my attention away from the game.

“I really questioned whether that was it. Scotland (July’s Scottish Open) was close to being my last ever event but that’s just the way it goes, that’s life and you’ve got to deal 
with it.

“I changed coaches in the search for better golf and it hasn’t worked out the last two years. I’ve gone back to my old coach Hugh Marr and done some really good work with Justin Buckthorp, my trainer-come-psychologist, best friend, mentor, and stripped everything back and realised why I’m doing it, what I’m doing it for and I’m in a happier place personally.

“He’s kind of brought me back from the brink of hanging up the boots so I’m not sure if I’ll thank him for that or not!”

Ormsby, who started from the tenth, had the chance to post the second sub-60 round in European Tour history when he raced to the turn in 28 on the par-70 layout, aided by holing his four-iron approach to the 14th for an eagle two.

However, the 39-year-old Australian could only pick up two birdies on the inward nine to finish eight under par, a shot ahead of home favourite Joakim Lagergren and France’s Alexander Levy.

“I made a pretty straightforward birdie on the 12th and then at the 14th I was in between a five and a four iron, picked the right one and boxed it, so then I just got a bit of momentum through the final holes,” Ormsby said.

“I felt like I had been hitting the ball quite well, I just wasn’t quite free enough in my putting, so I was working hard on that to get back to a point where I feel more comfortable and less into my technique.”

Levy had missed the cut in eight of his last ten starts as he works on swing changes with coach Sean Foley, but feels he is on the right track after a 63 which featured eight birdies and a solitary bogey.

“When you look at the video of my swing it’s totally different so it’s nice,” Levy said. “I feel I have really good control on the flight and spin of the ball which was what I really 

World No 30 Matt Fitzpatrick, the highest-ranked player in the field, is two shots off the lead after a 
bogey-free 64.