Golf talent Chris Cotton says he has learned the standard he needs to attain if he is to achieve his objective of playing at the highest level.
The St Leonards-based amateur took part in final qualifying for The 145th Open Championship alongside several European Tour professionals yesterday (Tuesday).
And although Cotton finished tied 56th in the 72-man field at the Royal Cinque Ports links in Deal, the event provided him with a valuable learning experience.
He said: “It was tough. I think it was just a case of inexperience, just getting used to being in that position and that golf course.
“I think I would’ve been a little bit better playing at Woburn (one of the three other final qualifying venues), but I don’t think I would’ve learnt as much.
“It just showed me how much control they (the tour players) have got over their golf ball, the level of consistency they play at and the standard I’ve got to get to if that’s what I want to do for a living.”
Sedlescombe Golf Club member Cotton carded rounds of 87 and 80, although he certainly wasn’t alone in finding the going tough on a day when only four men broke par for the 36 holes.
“If you hit a loose shot, you just lose a golf ball,” continued Cotton, who is very unfamiliar with links golf seeing as he has six months to go on a four-year scholarship at Thomas University in Georgia, where he is studying a degree in psychology.
“The rough was pretty much up to my waist in some places and you can’t see where you’re going on a lot of tee shots. A few times I thought I hit good shots and lost my golf ball.
“I learnt a lot about the golf course and felt the more I played it, the lower I will score. I felt pretty comfortable being in that position where you had small crowds watching and I’ve never really had that too much.”
The 24-year-old had booked his place in final qualifying by finishing joint first in the regional qualifying event at Wildernesse GC, Sevenoaks, the previous week.
“I want to play at the highest level and I’m going to make a plan to get to that level,” he added. “I know what it takes to play in a major so I need to figure out what I need to do to get my game to that level.
“It’s probably going to make me change a few things and I need to find a way to get more control over my golf ball, but I think that’s going to happen in time.”
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