Halfway through his debut European Tour season, Connor Syme is in sight of his main goal, but this week offers a real opportunity to press on beyond it.
The Drumoig player, 23 today, is just outside the 110th place on the Race to Dubai which guarantees retention of playing rights, and having jumped on to the big circuit so swiftly from Tour School weeks after turning professional last year, it’s obviously his main aim to stay there.
His second place in the Shot Clock Masters in Austria last month has been the obvious highlight, and his familiarity with that course – he played in the European Team Championships there as an amateur last year – was maybe a key element.
He knows Gullane well, and therefore finally getting inside the red line on the entry list at the weekend means that he has that benefit coming into the Aberdeen Standard Investment Scottish Open.
“My two best results this year have both been on courses I’ve known,” he pointed out. “I think you ask anybody; it’s definitely nicer going back to somewhere you know, and it helps through the week.
“I definitely have to work harder than most guys to learn a golf course because it’s my first year out here. But I know Gullane and hopefully that kind of plays into my hands a little bit this week.”
The goal for the season is simply to retain his card, and with the added prizemoney of a Rolex Series available at Gullane he could take a big step towards that, because he’s not guaranteed a presence in the big-earning events because of his low playing category.
“Getting my European Tour card (retained) would be a great achievement for me this year,” he said. “That would be a great step in my career, having a full schedule next year and being able to plan ahead.
“At the moment you’re always waiting on the reshuffle, two weeks in advance, for these top events. But I’ve still had a lot of opportunities and I’m in a good position. There’s been quite a lot of positives, but a few missed cuts I’ve not been too pleased about.
“Securing next year would obviously be a great goal to hopefully be able to kick on.”
Those opportunities he’s had, to play at the top level and to learn from his elders, have been something the youngster has soaked up.
“It’s my job now, there’s more responsibility on me to, well, there is, to go out and perform although I’m treating things very, very similar to when I was an amateur.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is probably time management. I try to speak and get advice from guys, like Stephen Gallacher who I played with him in Germany a few weeks ago.
“Everyone is different, but it’s finding out how the guys have done it for such a long period of time out here on Tour.
“I’m very aware that as a young guy, keen to do well, you can still overdo it. There’s a lot of travel involved, a lot of practise. Monday to Thursday can be quite a long time but if you’re not fresh on Thursday, you’re not going to be successful.
“Trying to stay as fresh as possible for my Thursday, and then through the tournament, is probably what I’ve learned most over the last few months.”
For the first time since he did so well in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October, Connor is looking forward to being among his home support.
“It’s a massive event for me and I’ve had a few more messages than normal,” he continued. “There’s a lot of people excited that I’m playing, and I’m mega-excited myself, obviously.
“I’m staying with my girlfriend this week, which doesn’t happen very often. And my dad (PGA pro Stuart) has been down, he walked a few holes with me yesterday and carried the bag.
“It’s been pretty relaxed, but I’m looking forward to getting kicked off on Thursday.”