TOOMEY HEADS TO CHINA
We talk to one of our young professionals who has recently qualified for the China Tour.
Toomey triumphed in January at the China Tour International Qualifying stage to gain his place on the tour, along with fellow Kiwis Kieran Muir (Omokoroa) and Hayden Beard (Mount Maunganui). Toomey shot rounds of 74, 73, 69 and 70 in tough conditions to win the qualifying stage tournament by three shots from second-placed Muir, while Beard finished in a tie for 16th. We caught up with the former NZ Golf rep about his exciting year ahead.
You recently secured your first professional win in China, tell me about the final round?
I was actually very nervous. It was the first time I had been in contention since I finished up playing amateur golf in 2016. I was probably more nervous going into the third day's play because conditions were very tough with the wind gusting upwards of 60km per hour and I knew that a good round would almost guarantee a full card for the year, and trust me - when you're going into the year with no status anywhere, that's an opportunity that you want to make the most of. Once I got through the first nine of the last day I was confident that I would be leaving with a season's worth of events to play so my only concern standing on 10 was turning a full card into a W. It was nice to put the icing on the cake and get the monkey off my back so early in my career.
What did it mean to you to secure your first win as a pro? You are only getting started in your pro career, what does it mean to have the security of a card all year in China?
It means everything. Playing well once or twice and securing your card across a season is not overly difficult. Giving yourself a chance to play a full season's worth of events however is a whole 'nother beast. I know guys that have been on tour for 25 years and are still tackling certain qualifying schools. So at risk of sounding like I haven't earned the right to have this opinion, let me tell you - Q Schools suck! You get one chance, once a year to get it right. I can only be honest and honestly - that's a pretty difficult pill to swallow.
If I'm completely honest though, the most valuable lesson I learned from my time in the program was internal. I was your typical 15-year-old with every opinion in the world - all show and no go. By the time I left, all I wanted to do was listen.
Much like sitting exams at school or work and knowing that a brief test isn't really an accurate representation of your knowledge, the same goes for Q schools. However, what I love about them is that they make us, as golfers, accountable; accountable for our training, work ethic, opportunity, will, goals, dreams, everything. If that doesn't get you up in the morning then I don't know what will.
It must have been even more special to have fellow Kiwis Kieran Muir and Hayden Beard also secure their cards?
Absolutely. The question I've had most so far is how I deal with travel. In a short answer - mates. I'm so blessed to have such good people around me. My team, my sponsors in Titleist and Autex, my family, and my mates! To have those guys on tour with me makes all the difference.
You had a successful amateur career and travelled a lot with NZ Golf - has that helped with your transition to pro golf?
For sure. There's no doubt that my stint in the NZG program most definitely helped. The exposure they gave me to elite competition and the opportunity to play alongside the world's best definitely allowed me to progress and at a minimum, understand how high the bar is and work out a plan to jump as high. If I'm completely honest though, the most valuable lesson I learned from my time in the program was internal. I was your typical 15-year-old with every opinion in the world - all show and no go. By the time I left, all I wanted to do was listen. Don't get me wrong, having your filter dialled in at all times is a must – there's a lot of excess information out there and in an age of instant gratification, it can be far too easy to be led astray. However, learning to be become truly self-aware and having the courage to step outside of you ego and take on feedback and criticism is by far the greatest gift they could've possibly given me.
What are you looking forward to this year in China? It will be a fun year with all the Kiwi lads?
It's pretty difficult to look past the pathway each tour has to bigger tours - those being full playing rights on the European Tour for the winner of the Regular China Tours' Order of Merit, and full cards for the Web. com will be given to the top five on the PGA Tour of China's Order of Merit. I've been holing putts on the practice green to win The Masters since I was four years old watching Tiger Woods in '97. To have a direct pathway in front of me now gives me goosebumps! Is it going to be even more fun with the Kiwi lads? Hell yeah, bro!