CHRIS Paisley knows one of his priorities for the next leg of the European Tour’s Middle East swing this week . . . to stop stargazing at his idols.
The unassuming 26-year-old from Mickley had an impeccable grounding in the sport before battling through to his rookie season this year.
A former Northumberland amateur champion, he came up through US college golf, a successful amateur career which saw him play Walker Cup and eventual graduation from the Challenge Tour.
He missed last week’s cut in Abu Dhabi and coach Andrew Nicholson, who runs the Leadbetter Academy at Wynyard, was with him as a promising first round saw Paisley fade away to miss the cut in company with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
Tomorrow he joins fellow North East and Cumbria pros Graeme Storm and Gary Lockerbie in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the Doha club.
Paisley (pictured above) said: “Overall last week was good because I learned a lot and I feel I am becoming more comfortable in this environment.
“It was strange being around so many great players I grew up watching on TV. Very exciting, though.
“Nico left me with plenty of good feedback. I’d say the most important thing I need to improve is being able to stay in my own little bubble. The change in environment in terms of big-name players, big crowds, tougher golf courses and more distractions makes it easy to lose focus on your own process.
“Last week I found myself looking at other players a little too much rather than just doing my thing. I think this is a normal process. This week I feel more at home and comfortable.”
A tireless worker at his game, Paisley has avoided the trap of making excuses for losing his way last week.
He added: “I need to improve my driving. It is usually pretty good and I have done a lot of work on it this week. It’s feeling much better. I also need to make more putts from 15-20 feet.
“My short range putting is usually spot-on but I don’t make enough 15-footers.
“I’ve spent a lot of time this week on this length of putt, so hopefully it will pay off. The Abu Dhabi tournament was both encouraging and disappointing.
“It was great to play nicely in the first round and be fairly high up on the leaderboard.
“I played well but certainly not my best, which shows if I play my game, I can compete with the world’s best.
“It was a shame to play poorly in the second round. My driving was poor and I only hit five fairways.
“With the course long and tight, and the rough extremely penal, it was impossible for me to score well driving so poorly.”
:: DON’T miss tomorrow’s Journal Sport for a heartfelt message to the national and county golf authorities from cinderella club Allendale ahead of next Monday’s Northumberland AGM.