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Dinwiddie better prepared for life back on main Tour
A QUICK look down the latest rankings for the European Challenge Tour shows Robert Dinwiddie prominently placed in tenth spot. If he holds on to such a position on Sunday night, he will almost certainly have secured a place among the elite for next year.
It is 23 months since Dinwiddie lost his European Tour card. In the time which has passed, he has questioned whether he would ever be able to recapture his best, wondering if his dreams of playing at the highest level were over.
But if he can record a relatively strong finish at the Foshan Open in China over the course of the next four days, the 30-year-old will have returned to the level he spent many years trying to reach in the first place. Only this time, he already feels a more contented golfer.
“I basically had a complete break from golf from around mid-February to mid-April last year. I completely switched off and basically rekindled the feelings I had for golf,” said Dinwiddie, before flying out to Shishan Town in Foshan City on Sunday.
“It still took me time to get going again this year. But I have basically been coaching myself, I have learned a lot about my own game, my swing. I basically found the fundamentals of golf again, which I felt I lost a bit of. I have got back direction and that was the important thing.”
His performances have not been perfect by any stretch this year. He has missed eight cuts. Yet when he has been on song he has shown sufficient quality to earn seven top twenty finishes, five in the top ten. That has helped him amass more than €80,000.
He begins today’s first round in China sitting tenth in the Order of Merit, knowing a top 15 place after the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic on October 24-27 will mean the main European Tour card he has coveted has been delivered.
That is an exciting prospect for Dinwiddie, who first played on the European Tour in 2008. He said: “I have never felt ‘that’s it, I’m going to quit’. But there was a lot to deal with. I was playing rubbish, running out of money and then there was all of the travelling.
“Now my thoughts are different. I am completely committed to golf. When I first went on Tour in 2008 I was young and naive. I’m not going to be like that again. I have done a lot of thinking over the last few years and I’ve realised that this is my career. This is what I want to do. This is what I have to concentrate on.”
When Dinwiddie started life on the European Tour five years ago, he still showed he possessed the talent to be a success story. Finding consistency was what proved the problem over the longer term.
There was still a tied seventh place finish at the Omega European Masters, a tied sixth spot at the Barclays Scottish Open and a tied third at the BMW Asian Open during his rookie year – as well as finishing memorably in 36th spot at the US Open.
Despite a positive start to 2009, though, he was unable to build on tied eighth finishes at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the BMW Italian Open. He said: “That was the year I lost my card. I was struggling with my back for a lot of that year. That contributed to me losing my card.
“Then over the last couple of years I wasn’t enjoying my golf. I’d had seven or eight years of non-stop golf and I think that’s why the break I had in Thailand helped me. I realised what I was missing and what I wanted to do after questioning everything I was doing.”
London-based Dinwiddie, still attached to the Barnard Castle Golf Club where his father Alastair still plays, has encountered no such problems over the last six months and is now excited about the future.
“It’s been great, I’ve loved this year, even if I haven’t managed to win an event yet,” said Dinwiddie. “I have more or less secured my card for next year, now it’s all about finishing as highly as I can up the Order of Merit.
“If I can climb in to the top five then that is likely to see me gain invitations to play in all of the tournaments on the European Tour next year. That’s what the aim is now – so to win an event in the last few weeks would be fantastic.”
It would take something of a disaster for Dinwiddie to drop out of the top 15, so he can tentatively think about next year already.
“I’m not just going to be going in there to make up the numbers, be happy to sit bottom of the pile,” he said. “I have learned a lot about myself as a person and as a golfer. If I can get my card it will be a new chapter of my career and a chapter I am determined to make the most of it.
“I want to succeed at European Tour level and I’d love to go to Dubai as one of the Race to Dubai’s top 60 at the end of the year for the DP World Tour Championship next year.”
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