Having already given up his spot in the US Open in a fortnight’s time by joining the paid ranks, Romain Langasque has now turned down an invitation from Jack Nicklaus as he remains focused on his No 1 goal of using the Challenge Tour to secure a seat at the top table in European golf next year.
The 20-year-old, who has made the cut in both the Open Championship and The Masters since winning the Amateur Championship at Carnoustie last June, declined the opportunity given to him by the game’s greatest player to join the line-up for the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village this week.
Instead, Langasque is heading to Lucerne for the Swiss Challenge as he bids to maintain the momentum that has seen him chalk up three top-five finishes from five starts on the European Tour’s development circuit this season to sit fifth in its Road to Oman rankings.
“It’s not a tough decision, really, because the way things are shaping up for me I am going to be in a good position to be stepping up to the European Tour next season and that is my main objective,” Langasque told The Scotsman.
“If I had not played good at the start of this year, I might have gone to The Memorial as I would have had some invitations on the Challenge Tour and a couple on the PGA Tour. But now I have a chance to make a good start to my professional career and I want to see if I can keep that going. For the moment, it is about focusing on the Challenge Tour.”
Langasque was still an amateur when he finished runner-up in the circuit’s opening event of the season in Kenya. Under new Challenge Tour rules, he secured ranking points from that performance and has added plenty more since joining the paid ranks straight after The Masters. He finished fifth in Egypt, 27th behind Duncan Stewart in Madrid and fifth in the Turkish Airlines Challenge.
Add in a victory in the Spanish Amateur Championship earlier this year and his 2016 plan is coming together very nicely indeed. Not that it included a visit to Augusta National, where he closed with a 67 and emulated Woods’s memorable chip in from off the back of the green at the 16th for a birdie-2 on the last day, was included in that straight after he beat Grant Forrest in the final of the R&A’s marquee amateur event in Angus.
“You are right,” he said on being reminded of that. “I did say immediately after winning the Amateur Championship that I would probably be turning professional straight after the British Open as that was the plan I had in my head at that time. At first, I didn’t want to have to wait for The Masters to come around as it felt like it was going to be a long time but I soon realised that getting the chance to play at Augusta National was something I shouldn’t miss out on.
“Take Raphael Jacquelin, for instance. He’s a great player but has never had the chance to play in The Masters. Alexander Levy has also won twice now on the European Tour and finished in a play-off on another occasion, yet he is also still waiting to play at Augusta National for the first time. Having talked things through with my coach (Benoit Ducoulombier, who also works with Victor Dubuisson) and my family, I’m certainly glad I changed my mind because The Masters was the best week I’ve ever had.”
He’d warmed up for the season’s opening major by beating Bryson DeChambeau by 4&3 in the Georgia Cup, an annual match between the Amateur and US Amateur champions. With both having made their mark in professional events as amateurs, it seems inevitable their careers are now going to be compared over the coming few years. “Maybe we will be compared, but we didn’t take the same way,” observed Langasque. “He is going down the PGA Tour route through invitations; I am doing it on the Challenge Tour. I don’t want to be compared with him. I want to be me. I prefer to go step-by-step.”
If Langasque keeps progressing the way he has over the last 11 months, he could be a Ryder Cup contender for the 2018 contest in Paris. With the Open Championship that year heading to Carnoustie, that would be a dream double date. “I want to play in a Ryder Cup - that is my dream,” admitted Langasque. “It would be amazing if it was in France, but it would be equally amazing if it wasn’t. In golf, things can go good quickly but can also go bad quickly. I just have to focus on my golf and my life. I just have to be cool and having fun is more important for me.
“I hope to be at Carnoustie for the 2018 Open Championship because I think the course will be a lot harder for that than it was for the British Amateur and I would love to face that challenge. During the British Amateur, it was really soft and little wind. If I could play it as a professional, I would be heading back there with so many good memories.”