CONNOR SYME hopes his fledgling professional career is heading in the right direction – with a little help from Irish pop star Niall Horan.
Syme turned professional last September after representing Great Britain & Ireland at the Walker Cup in his final act as an amateur.
He was signed by Modest! Golf Management, a company which was set up by the One Direction singer, and Horan has been on hand to offer his help and advice.
“I had met Niall before turning pro,” explains Connor. “He’s a great guy and it’s great to be part of his team.
“He’s heavily involved in things and probably much more involved than people would imagine.
“Niall loves his golf and he’s a great supporter of the game. It’s been good to chat to him.
“Obviously, he’s reached the top of his profession and he has travelled a lot, and he’s told me that it doesn’t come out without the talent and a lot of hard work.”
The Drumoig golfer enjoyed top-15 finishes in his first two starts as a pro on the European Tour last year, before coming through Q-School to earn his privileges for 2018.
He will make his first appearance of the year when he tees up at the Dubai Desert Classic this week.
Horan will be there to partner Rory McIlroy and bring a bit of showbiz to Wednesday’s pro-am, before Connor can get down to the serious business on Thursday.
But the 22-year-old faces a big test as he begins life on the main Tour.
Of the 2016 Q-School graduates, only three out of 30 retained their card at the end of the season, and only one of them, England’s Eddie Pepperell finished in the top 60.
However, optimism abounds as Connor heads to the Middle East to compete in a field that includes Rory, Masters Champion and last year’s winner Sergio Garcia, and many other star names.
“I can’t wait to get going,” he enthuses. “This is a great opportunity for me and a class event to start the year off.
“I took time off after my last event – the Joburg Open – to recharge my batteries and now I’m keen to kick off in Dubai.
“Coming from Tour School, keeping my card would be a good year and I’ll have to keep plugging away.
“Looking at every tournament and my category, there will be some weeks when I’m sitting on the bench.
“I’ll have to play every event I can. I can’t pick and choose. I’ll be seeing courses for the first time, but that’s all part of the experience and it was something I enjoyed at amateur level.
“It’s about having patience. You want it to be plain sailing but you know it doesn’t work like that.
“I was speaking to Dane Anders Hansen recently. He has been a very successful player and won some big tournaments.
“Yet he’s had a high number of missed cuts. That shows what golf is like and maybe missing a cut doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all.
“I’m sure there will be some highs and some lows but, hopefully, it will be all good come November and I’ll still be out here.”