'˜It felt good to get home and put the clubs away'
Regardless of what Connor Syme achieves in what promises to be an outstanding pro career, 2017 is a year he'll always remember.
Last January the 22-year-old from Drumoig was one of the world’s best amateur golfers and focused only on cementing his own legacy in those ranks.
A place in Team GB and Ireland for the Walker Cup against the USA was the ambition.
It was a realistic goal, and had it been the only real success of note across the past 12 months it still would have signified a terrific season.
Of course, he would go on to achieve more.
A lot more.
Victory as an amateur at Crail’s Battle Trophy was an impressive, local success, but things quickly blew up when Syme raced through qualifying for the Open Championship and earned a place at one of sport’s most famous events.
It was an arrival on the world stage and he’d go on to stroll into selection for that Walker Cup team before making the decision to turn pro.
Top 15 finishes at the Portugal Masters and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship followed before the 22-year-old earned his card for this season’s European Tour.
The first three events have been played on the tour, with Syme missing the cut in two before the festive break and choosing not to compete at last week’s South African Open.
Instead he stayed in Drumoig to prepare for Dubai where he reflected on a life changing 12 months.
“It’s was good to get a bit of time off,” said Syme.
“I was able to just settle down, put the clubs away for a bit and rest up until I went back out again on January 1.
“Doing that I knew I wouldn’t have time to prepare for South Africa so we’ve focused on Dubai instead.
“It was good to take that bit of time to reflect on the year and plan for 2018.”
After winning his card for the 2018 season, Syme wasted no time in putting it to use, playing the Mauritius Open before an appearance at the Joburg Open.
Adjusting to life in the professional game will take time, of course, but Syme is in good hands, signing with management company Modest! Golf shortly after leaving the amateurs.
The company was developed in part by One Direction star Niall Horan.
“I found Mauritius a different experience,” said Syme.
“It was all built up and we were on site pretty much the whole time and didn’t leave the hotel.
“There’s something from that I can take in terms of getting to know different courses.
“In South Africa I began to find something in my game and was disappointed to just miss the cut.”
Just one shot denied Syme a place in the weekend at the Joburg Open, and it’s those fine margins he reckons he’ll have to learn to get used to.
“The cut mark was -4 which it’s unlikely you’d ever see in the amateurs,” he said.
“The strength in depth is a lot deeper, so many top guys are playing each week, and you won’t get away with as much on the golf course.”
As a rookie pro he’ll be breaking new ground over the coming few months.
But he has his supporters already, with former European pro and current Sky Sports Golf channel presenter, Nick Dougherty, amongst those tipping him for big things.
Typically, the down to earth Fifer, coached by his dad Stuart, owner of the Drumoig Golf Centre, isn’t getting carried away.
“I have goals, but at the moment I’m still getting to grips with being a professional,” he said.
“But I know I can compete at this level so I just want to steady myself and look to retain my card.”