Dustin Johnson isn’t the only player heading into this week’s 120th US Open in fine fettle. Three top-ten finishes in his last three starts have set up Connor Syme very nicely indeed for his debut in the USGA major at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, which sits 27 miles from the heart of New York.
“It’s really pleasing,” admitted the 25-year-old Fifer of the eye-catching run of form in the recent UK Swing on the European Tour that secured one of the ten spots that were on offer through a mini-order of merit, which was born out of qualifying being scrapped for the rescheduled event due to the coronavirus.
“The start to my pro career probably lacked consistency and now I am certainly finding a bit of that this year. I am happy with the consistency I have shown over the last few weeks and hopefully that form can continue for a long time.”
Syme, who has two Open Championship appearances under his belt, held a 54-hole lead on the European Tour for the first time before finishing in a tie for third in the Celtic Classic at Celtic Manor then had his nose in front most of the week in the Wales Open at the same venue until a poor finish left him having to settle for eighth spot. That was also where he finished in the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama in his warm-up for this week.
“I was delighted,” said Syme of seeing his good golf since the circuit’s restart being rewarded, “as that was one of the goals between myself and my dad, caddie and other members of the team when it was announced the UK Swing was going to have a mini-order of merit for the US Open.
“The manner I got the spot was maybe slightly disappointing, but it was great to achieve that goal, nonetheless, and now I am mega-looking forward to playing at Winged Foot. It will be great to test myself in an event like this.”
He’s still hurting a bit about being unable to turn one of those opportunities in Wales into a breakthrough win on the main tour, but, at the same time, he has taken huge confidence from not only those performances but also how he’s played since regaining his card.
“100 per cent, yes,” he said to that. “It’s about getting yourself into those situations and learning from them all the time. I know you hear that all the time, but it is definitely true. Hopefully what happened at Celtic Manor can help me when I get into that position again.
“I think the only time I didn’t have the lead in the second event in Wales, unfortunately, was with five holes to play, having had my first 54-hole lead the week before. But it’s stuff like that I can learn from going forward. The only thing that was missing in Wales, I suppose, was a win and that’s a big positive going forward. They were massive experiences all round that will help me in the future.”
The former Australian Amateur champion, who is coached by his dad Stuart, who owns Drumoig Golf Centre and also now has the pro shop at Scotscraig, is joining Bob MacIntyre and Sandy Scott in flying the Saltire at the venue where Colin Montgomerie came up agonisingly short in the last US Open there in 2006.
“It’s a massive event and my experiences from playing the US Amateur certainly got my attention in terms of how the USGA organise events,” admitted Syme. “I’ve played in The Open a couple of times and that was incredible and I am sure this will be amazing as well. I am really looking forward to it, having watched it as a kid from Tiger [Woods] winning and then Rory [McIlroy] as well.
“Monty obviously had a good chance to win there in ‘06 and, from the highlights I’ve seen of past events there, it looks like a brutal golf course. It’s another step I need to make. I know roughly what to expect in terms of difficulty, but a major in the US is going to be a new experience for me. I’ll embrace the challenge and it’s exciting as these are the stages you want to be playing on.”
His goal for the week? “I’m not too sure yet,” he added. “I think we all know that making the cut in a US Open is a good result. Having this opportunity is amazing and my primary goal will be to play all four rounds. I’d be really disappointed to miss the cut, but I’m not too sure what to expect. I’m coming into this on the back of some good form in Europe, but I still have lots to learn and it takes time. Hopefully I can learn a lot this week.”
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