Connor Syme focuses on Open Championship challenge

Connor Syme will enter this week’s Open Championship with a “different mind-set” than his previous appearance in 2017.
Fifer Connor Syme tees up at Royal Portrush this week. Pic by John Stewart.Fifer Connor Syme tees up at Royal Portrush this week. Pic by John Stewart.
Fifer Connor Syme tees up at Royal Portrush this week. Pic by John Stewart.

Connor, from Drumoig, came through regional qualifying at the Fairmont in St Andrews recently to book one of just three available places at the major, being played at Royal Portrush.

It was a case of history repeating for the 24-year-old, who qualified for the 2017 Open via the same route as an amateur.

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But, since then, he’s turned professional, has a year on the European Tour under his belt and the experience of a victory as a pro on the Challenge Tour.

Connor admits The Open is a different proposition this time round.

“In 2017 I was still trying to get more experience,” he said.

“At that point I wasn’t planning on turning professional and was still thinking about another year as an amateur.

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“But things obviously changed after I played The Open the last time.

“I’m going into this one with a different mind-set.

“The Challenge Tour is my main focus and there’s an opportunity to earn points at The Open for the tour’s order of merit, so if I can make the cut then it can help my season.”

Royal Portrush will be set up to challenge the best the game has to offer next weekend, including home hope Rory McIlroy, last year’s winner Francesco Molinari and leading Americans Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson.

While they’ll arrive soon to get a brief look around the course before the tournament starts, Connor has the comfort of familiarity, having a long history with the course stretching back to his amateur days.

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“I played the Home Internationals and also the Amateur Championship there in 2014 so it’ll be good to go back,” he said.

“In that respect, it gives me an advantage and it can only be good for me to go into The Open having that knowledge of the course.”

And after the major, it’ll be back to the bread and butter of the Challenge Tour, with Connor aiming to close out his place inside the top 15 and earn his European Tour playing rights again.

He’s already won in Turkey and has built on that with a few decent finishes, leaving him currently sixth on the tour’s order of merit.

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Connor added: “It’s been a solid start but I wanted to do a bit better in the last couple of tournaments.

“In Italy, I played well and was never far from the top of the lead and had a late chance to win after rolling in an eagle.

“I’ve already had my win this season but I definitely want another one.”