CHRIS PAISLEY’S golfing life changed forever thanks to a magical four days in South Africa last month.
With wife Keri on the bag for one week only, Chris produced four flawless rounds to go from journeyman pro to European Tour winner at the BMW South African Open.
But he didn’t rest on the laurels of his maiden Tour victory and backed it up with successive top-five finishes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
That run of form saw him named Golfer of the Month for January, but more importantly it was enough to see him earn his spot in this week’s WGC event in Mexico.
— Chris Paisley (@ChrisPaisley86) February 26, 2018
The Englishman’s landscape has suddenly changed and now things like the Masters and even a spot in Europe’s Ryder Cup team are on the horizon.
But it’s that week in South Africa – the first tournament of 2018 – which has been the catalyst for all these exciting possibilities.
“It was a late decision to go there,” he admits. “And my regular caddie had already booked to go skiing in Chamonix that week, so Keri agreed to do it.
“I was almost thinking of it as a warm-up event for Abu Dhabi because I am normally terrible in the first week back after a break.
“But I decided to give it a proper go. Keri was saying for a few weeks before that we were going to win. Even now it’s still not quite sunk in. I was so happy with the way I played and to have Keri alongside me made it a special week.
“In the past, I have been guilty of getting comfortable after a good week and my performance dropped.
“I didn’t want to be happy with that and I pushed on and here I am in a WGC event against the best players in the world.
“I’ve never played in one of these or a Major before, so I’m excited. I have already reached a lot of the goals I set at the start of the year, so I’ve had to re-evaluate.
“Previously I felt I was in danger of becoming a bit of a journeyman so I set loftier goals and wanted to be more ambitious.
“I had been happy with being ‘mid-table’ so I said to myself I wanted to finish higher up the Race to Dubai, win a tournament and get into and compete in the Majors and WGCs.
“Suddenly there is a positive pressure on me and I am chasing something rather than just looking back and trying to keep my card.”
Paisley’s brilliant start to the year has been reflected in the world rankings where he has climbed from 289th to his current position of 84th.
Now he is wondering if he has more good golf in him to make the top 50 and earn that golden ticket to Augusta in April.
“I never paid that much attention to the world rankings,” he says. “It doesn’t make much difference when you’re about 300th!
“All of a sudden, it’s on the radar and it does matter. But I know I have to play very well to make The Masters.
“If I did well enough in Mexico that would get me into the WGC Matchplay, and if I won a few matches in that, I could sneak into the top 50.
“That would be a great achievement and very exciting. And I really believe it’s do-able.”