NO sooner had he walked off the 18th green on Sunday, carried out the formalities of winning his first European Tour title and enjoyed a small celebration, Chris Paisley was jetting off again.

His week in South Africa could not have gone any better, but his mind had already turned to his next outing.

Paisley, like fellow North-East golfer Graeme Storm 12 months earlier, is the South Africa Open champion. His schedule means it has already been a bit of a whirlwind, but there will be a time when he can take stock of his achievement.

The 31-year-old, from Stocksfield, near Hexham, has worked extremely hard over the years to fulfil his dreams of becoming a Tour player – and still works with the man he did aged 14, Wynyard and Durham coach Andrew Nicholson.

Nicholson flew out to Abu Dhabi, where the next tournament starts tomorrow, to celebrate with his good friend on Monday, but the work has already begun on making sure his success at Glendower in Johannesburg is no flash in the pan.

“It still hasn’t sunk in really,” said Paisley. “We actually had to get an overnight flight to Dubai on Sunday night, so it was all a bit ‘back to reality’.

“It has been amazing going through all the messages since I won, but I really don’t feel any different – except for the big smile on my face that I can’t get rid of!

“I have worked with Nico since I was about 14 years old. Such a long coaching relationship is rare for a Tour pro. It means we have a great understanding. Obviously he has been a huge part of getting me to this point.

“We have both learned a lot over the years and been through a lot of ups and downs. He is so passionate about coaching and he cares so much about his pupils. He’s always gone above and beyond to help me.

“It’s so nice to get this win, not only for myself but for Nico and all the other people that have worked so hard for it.”

Paisley carded a flawless closing round at Glendower to close on a stunning 21-under for the four days, three clear of South Africa’s Branden Grace. Despite Grace’s quality, the man from Northumberland refused to buckle under the pressure.

He said: “If you told me on the Thursday I’d have shot 21 under and gone head to head with Branden on the final day I wouldn’t have believed it. I just felt the whole day I was really solid and I didn’t give Branden any leeway because I kept making him make birdies.”

Having his wife Keri – standing in for his normal caddie – on the bag for the first time on Tour certainly helped too. Paisley, after collecting more than £140,000 in winnings on Sunday, said: “Keri knows me better than anyone. At times when I was getting uptight or walking faster she was calming me down.”

He has sensed a win might be just around the corner because of the improvements he has felt in his game, assisted by Nicholson, the European director of coaching for the David Leadbetter Academy.

Paisley said: “I have changed the way I practice a little bit. I’ve always worked hard but I was noticing that there was a huge difference in how I felt during practice and when I played tournaments. In practice I feel comfortable and relaxed, yet in tournaments, when the adrenaline was flowing, I wasn’t performing anywhere near as well. I wanted to put pressure on myself during practice in order to bridge the gap between the two.

“I set up demanding skills tests and if I failed, I had to do a forfeit, such as push ups or sprints. The embarrassment of doing stuff like that on the practice area in front of people was enough to make me nervous.

“It has enabled me to practice while in the same mental and physical state I am during events. It was noticeable how much sharper I felt going into last week.”

Even though Paisley – up to a personal best 121st in the world rankings and fifth in the Race to Dubai – has not won an event on Tour before he has had plenty strong finishes, including thirds in Denmark 2017, Italy 2016 and the BMW International Open in 2016.

Having secured his card so early in 2018 he is determined not to relax. He said: “It certainly eases the pressure, although that is not necessarily a good thing for me. I tend to play best when I’m under the cosh. I don’t want to sit back and relax and enjoy the exemption, I want to press on and win again. Who knows how far I can go now that I have got my first win?

“Last year I wouldn’t say I was lucky to keep my card (finished 112th in Race to Dubai). They made a rule change to address the imbalance in prize funds. I happened to play well in the regular events and poorly in the Rolex Series events.

“I kept my card comfortably on the access list. I think the fact that my card was secured via the access list actually hurt my performances at the end of the season. I was exhausted and knew my card was safe, I probably took my eye off the ball a little bit.”

If that was the case, then Paisley’s eyes are fully focused now.