Chris Paisley’s name isn’t the only thing that links the player currently setting the heather on fire on the European Tour to Scotland. As an amateur, he was mentored by Dean Robertson while his manager is another well-kent face in golfing circles, Brian Marchbank.
Both Robertson and Marchbank saw potential in Paisley when he was coming through the ranks and can clearly spot talent. The 31-year-old from Hexham recently claimed a maiden European Tour triumph with victory in the South African Open and has backed that up with two equally impressive performances.
He finished joint fifth behind Tommy Fleetwood in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship before claiming that same position on his own in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, won by China’s Haotong Li, last Sunday.
Having earned more than £300,000 over the past three weeks – he has already picked up more money this year than he did in the whole of 2017 – Paisley is sitting fourth in the Race to Dubai behind last season’s winner Fleetwood, Li and Rory McIlroy.
Robertson, a European Tour winner himself, was captain of the European team for the 2009 Palmer Cup, which is the collegiate equivalent of the Ryder Cup, when he first got to know Paisley. He then caddied for him in the Amateur Championship the following year at Muirfield, where Paisley’s brave title bid was ended by Banchory’s James Byrne in the semi-finals.
“Dean was a big help to me,” Paisley told The Scotsman. “We became friends through the Palmer Cup (Europe won that match 13-11 at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado) and it was great having him on my bag at Muirfield. He’s a good guy to have on your side. He’s very positive. He’s obviously been out here himself, so he knows the deal.
“There are still a few things he taught me back then that I still do now. For instance, I do a commitment scorecard. Rather than focusing too much on my actual score, after every shot I give myself a score out of five. That’s based on both focus and commitment rather than just the score. It was Dean who introduced me to that the week of the Amateur Championship and I think I’ve used it ever since. He’s good fun. You can’t help but smile and laugh when you are around him.”
According to Robertson, Paisley’s recent purple patch is down to the player himself. “He’s a grafter and does so many things very well across the board,” said the 1999 Italian Open champion who is now the University of Stirling’s high performance golf coach and doing a splendid job in that role. “I could not be more elated for him.”
As for Marchbank, Paisley first came into contact with him when he was the director of golf at Stirling-based 110sport Management. “I signed for them when I first turned pro only for the company to collapse not long after I joined them,” he said.
“Brian was working for them and I kept him on as my manager. He also looked after both George Murray and Stevie O’Hara before they stopped playing, leaving just me with him. He is also very experienced and it is nice to have him to talk to. He understands Tour life and the ups and the downs. He’s been a really good influence as well.”
Paisley was 289th in the world rankings at the end of last year but is now up to 80th and aims to keep his foot on the pedal for the rest of the season. “I remember after winning [the English Challenge] on the Challenge Tour six years ago that I played terrible the following week. I totally lost focus, I suppose,” he recalled. “It’s great that hasn’t happened this time and I don’t want to rest on my laurels. I want to push on and try to do it again. I’m in touching distance of getting into WGCs and majors and I will just try to keep riding the wave.”