A PROFESSIONAL golfer from Darlington is proving hard work and putting in the miles, thousands of them, pays off. Callum Tarren, who has made huge progress in recent years, has secured the biggest success of his life so far.

The 28-year-old, attached to Rockliffe Hall and a former member of Dinsdale Spa, has just landed full playing privileges on the Web.com Tour in 2019 – a stepping stone to the star-studded PGA Tour – after winning the PGA Tour Series-China Order of Merit.

His final round 62 at the Clearwater Bay Open did the trick. He needed no worse than a solo-second finish this week and for previous Order of Merit front-runner Charlie Saxon to tie for 24th or worse (he finished 25th) to earn the full playing card for the Web.com.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Tarren. “The hard work and dedication to the game I love has finally given me an opportunity at the next level. It’s huge winning the Order of Merit as that gives me fully exempt status for the whole year.

“If I had finished second to fifth it would have only given me conditional status which I believe would have only been the first eight events.

“It’s my third year out in China and it’s been a very successful three years. On the PGA Tour China in 2016 I finished eighth on the Order of Merit, last year I was third on the CGA Tour Order of Merit so to finally clinch the title this year in the final event was fantastic.”

Clearly for Tarren to have finished with around £120,000 earnings for the last year meant he had an incredible run, outpointing American Saxon by just 2,376 RMB in the end.

After finishing second at the Chengdu Championship in his first outing, he pushed for top fives and had three runner ups, nine top tens from 14 events and he did not miss a cut in any of his 27 events during his two years on the PGA Tour China-Series.

“The highlights were the memories from the whole year,” said Tarren, speaking from China. “Playing consistent, solid golf all year, getting myself in positions to win and battling it out with the great players out here.

“I would have to say a true highlight would be the final round at Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club last week, shooting a bogey free final round eight under, 62, to knock Charlie off the top spot. I didn’t even know what I had to do in order to win. I honestly thought I had to win the golf tournament.”

Tarren has been to the United States before, as he studied at Radford University, Virginia, so it will not be something new to him when he heads there. He might even have his recently appointed caddie, James Maw, alongside him having built up a strong relationship with him in China and at Rockliffe.

“It will be very familiar for me out there and I’m looking forward to being back,” said Tarren, who was in the US from 2010-14.

“I’ve honestly loved my last three years in China. It has been good to me. The golf courses are incredible and it’s only made me a better golfer, which I am very grateful for.

“You make a lot of sacrifices being a professional golfer and it’s sometimes a very lonely life. But with the support of my girlfriend Ashleigh, my family, dad Drew, mam Gill and Brad (brother), my closest friends and the people who have helped become the golfer I am today – like Lee McCavangh, Stuart Parnaby, Martyn Stubbings and also Rockliffe Hall – I am progressing.

“James has been with me too. He was out playing earlier this year in China. Things haven’t gone his way for one reason or another and ended up caddying for me. James is a top guy and a great caddy. I couldn’t think of a better guy to work with in 2019.”

And with the right team around him, Tarren already has his sights on an even greater goal – the full PGA Tour – his aim when he was at university.

First thing’s first and the County Durham talent has next season to think about, and he can’t wait.

“It hasn’t really sunk in,” he said. “But with full status for the Web.com season I can plan a great schedule in order to give me the best opportunity of obtaining a PGA Tour Card. The goal is to be in the top 25. I would also love to win there.”