The 20-year-old Wilco Nienaber is relishing the opportunity to compete as a pro and is excited about the prospect of what lies ahead.
In a player blog for the European Tour, Nienaber reflects on his recent successes and the biggest lessons he has learned so far.
‘Besides my couple of good finishes lately I feel like I could have done a whole lot better, but I’m really happy about how my first year turned out, because I can see improvements and I’ve learnt how to deal with the growth curve of being out here quite early,’ he writes.
‘I was happy with finishing second on the Challenge Tour in the first event this year because I played sensibly. There was a big difference in points between second and third, and I think I displayed that week I was actually thinking of the bigger picture. Obviously, I would have liked to have won, but I believe that will come eventually.’
Nienaber has certainly been making the most of the handful of opportunities he’s had on Tour after claiming fourth spot at the English Championship last month.
He followed that up with a T22 at the Celtic Classic and last week, under extremely testing circumstances, he claimed T6 at the Andalucia Masters.
For Nienaber, though, one of the biggest adjustments he’s had to make since turning pro is coping with being mostly on his own.
‘The biggest thing I’ve learnt in the past year though is how to be on my own. Back home my family and I are a close unit, so being away for so long on my own is tough, and I can’t just fly home when I miss a cut unless I’m playing in South Africa.
‘It’s different too when you change from junior events to being a professional, because as an amateur we would come over to summer events in the UK as a squad – you would do it with mates and coaches. When I turned professional it was just me, and sometimes my dad or mum or coach. It’s not easy, so I’ve had to get used to the solitude.’