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Smith targets world’s top 50 to make Majors

English rookie feels there’s still one more win left in him this season

Image Credit: Courtesy: RAKTDA
Jordan Smith
Gulf News

Dubai: Jordan Smith feels the European Tour Rookie of the Year award is beyond him but he still wants more wins this season to break into the world’s top 50 to qualify for next year’s Majors.

The 24-year-old Englishman won back-to-back EuroPro and Challenge Tour Order of Merits in 2015 and 2016 and now stands 17th in the Race to Dubai with 10 events remaining in his debut European Tour season.

With five top 10s, two top fives, and one win (in July’s Porsche European Open in Germany) from 24 events this season, including a tied for ninth in the PGA Championship in his first Major appearance, the World No. 69 is already guaranteed a place in the year-ending DP World Tour Championship.

However, Smith is still almost €1.7 million (Dh7.49 million) behind Spain’s Jon Rahm on the money list. Rahm is third overall and top of the rookie race with one win and three top three finishes from nine appearances.

“It’s between me and Jon for the Rookie award and I think he’s going to get it at the moment, it would be lovely to achieve but I think it’s going to be really tough to overtake him,” Smith told Gulf News in Dubai last week.

“I’d love to get inside the world’s top 50 though, as that would open up everything for next year, I’d get into all the Majors and hopefully get to play in a few more PGA Tour events.

“I’m World No. 69 now, so I’m not too far away, I just need to carry on getting a few more good finishes. I’d like to think I’ve got another win in the bag between now and the end of the year, so let’s see.”

Of his meteoric rise, he said: “I’m still pinching myself from my Challenge Tour win. I’m still trying to get my head around it all. I still get star struck on tour, but I’m steadily getting used to it.

“My form has been thanks to a gradual increase in confidence. I had won a couple of times on the EuroPro and Challenge Tour, and kept believing in myself.

“My first goal was just to keep my European Tour card this season and I managed to do that in the first couple of weeks, then I wanted to qualify for the year ender, but then I got into contention a few times and thought I could go on and win an event.

“To be honest I didn’t think my first win would come as quickly as it did, but I had confidence and was in contention a couple of times so I knew it was just around the corner.

“It was awesome to win in Germany. I went in with a bit of man flu and didn’t practice much due to the weather, but then I played the best golf I’ve ever played.

“The PGA Championship was also another a great week both on and off the course. I love playing in front of those sort of crowds and it definitely suits my game, but think I need to experience a few more Majors and get myself into contention a lot more, to get to grips with things.”

If he can do that, he may find himself in contention for next year’s European Ryder Cup team.

“That’s a definite goal of mine and it’s been mentioned a few times, obviously if I’m playing well you never know what might happen. But I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself, or think too much about it, I’m just going to let golf happen and see if I get in that team or not.”

This is the same attitude he has towards his first DP World Tour Championship this November 16-19.

“It would be nice to finish as high up as possible but I’m just going to go and enjoy myself, I’ll have my whole team and family around me, so it’s going to be a fun week and I’ll just go and enjoy myself.”