Golf World (UK) - - THE SPIN -

Ian Poul­ter de­clared Sam Horsfield “the best young player I’ve ever seen” when he played with him as a 14-year-old. Seven years later, the pair have re­mained close and Horsfield is em­bark­ing on his first full sea­son as a pro­fes­sional on the Euro­pean Tour. The 21-year-old Man­cu­nian moved to Florida when he was five, shot a 59 when he was 13 and at 15 his home course had to build spe­cial tees for him to pro­tect it­self from him. He ex­celled at the Univer­sity of Florida, with three wins in his first year in 2015. But de­spite his US up­bring­ing, he still sees him­self as English. “I’d rep­re­sent Europe in the Ry­der Cup, for sure,” he says with an Amer­i­can twang.

He be­came the youngest British male to play in an Amer­i­can ma­jor at the 2015 US Open – four months short of his 19th birth­day – and qual­i­fied again the fol­low­ing year. “Play­ing in a ma­jor is the tough­est test in golf. It was a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that def­i­nitely helped me get a few wins in col­lege and get where I am to­day.”

His abil­ity to raise his game in pres­sure sit­u­a­tions has also helped him reach the Euro­pean Tour so quickly. He won the Fi­nal Stage of Q School by eight shots at the end

of last year, but he might not have even reached that stage if it weren’t for one mas­sive mo­ment.

“The sec­ond shot I hit into 18 at Sec­ond Stage is one of the best shots of my life. I wasn’t play­ing very well, we had a ter­ri­ble num­ber and it was a hard wind, but I knew I needed to make birdie and I hit it to three feet. That birdie got me into a play-off that got me through to Fi­nal Stage. Then to win by eight was a huge con­fi­dence boost.”

The big hit­ter car­ried that run onto tour with a run­ner-up at the Tsh­wane Open, a 4th at the World Super 6 Perth, then a T14 in the star-stud­ded Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional. “I’d like to win this year and I think it’s very pos­si­ble. Ev­ery kid dreams of wak­ing up with a Green Jacket and play­ing Ry­der Cups so hope­fully I can make those dreams a re­al­ity at some point. I be­lieve I can, but I still have to go out there and prove it to the world.”

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