ZIMBABWEAN golfer Sean Crocker will bring the curtain down on his glittering amateur career at the Omega European Masters at Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland’s southwestern city of Valais from September 7 to 11.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Crocker, a three-time All-American and 2015 US Amateur Championship semifinalist, recently left the University of Southern California in his junior year to focus on his game full-time.
And before he makes the full leap to the paid ranks, the 20-year-old US-based rising star will have an opportunity to test himself against some of the finest professional golfers on the European Tour.
The Omega European Masters, which is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious golf competitions played on European soil, will however, be his last event as an amateur before he turns professional ahead of the qualifying school for the Web.com Tour in the US.
In an exclusive interview with Sports World, the rising star, who played his last amateur tournament at last week’s US Amateur Championship, said he was hoping to get the opportunity to play as many tournaments as possible on invites before securing his future on the main tours in Europe and the USA in the future.
“My first goal is just to get out there and play good golf but I’m hoping that if I turn pro with a decent enough amateur ranking, I will get enough starts. Obviously, my main goal is to do what John Rahm did to get enough starts and play so well that you get your PGA Tour card the next year,” Crocker said in reference, to Spaniard Rahm, the former world number one ranked amateur golfer.
Rahm, a former Arizona State University student, has been enjoying a dream start to his professional career having already managed to secure a win each on the PGA and European Tour barely one year after relinquishing his amateur status.
“That’s my goal, showing up and playing the best goal you can play which I know I can do. If that doesn’t work out my more realistic goal is to get as many starts on either the European or PGA Tour and secure my spot on either the [developmental] Challenge Tour or the Web.com Tour because I love the game so much. I just want to play, I don’t want to sit around and have to wait for my next opportunity to play.
“If I can play I know I’m going to grow inside the game and get better and start playing with those big boys,” he said.
Crocker has already featured in two European Tour events this year — the BMW International Open and Porsche European Open — courtesy of his Switzerland-based management team Impact Point AG, which also manages Spanish Ryder Cup star Sergio Garcia.
In his first outing at the BMW International Open just outside the city of Cologne in Germany, he fizzled out after a fine start to eventually finish in a tie for position 78.
However, it was on his return to Germany two weeks later for the Porsche European Open in Hamburg that Crocker made his biggest impression yet as he finished in a tie for position 33 on the star-studded leaderboard.
Young Crocker, who is the son of former Zimbabwe international cricketer Gary Crocker, said he was pleased with the experience he gained in Germany.
“Playing in the two European Tour events was an amazing experience mainly because it was my first experience playing in the big professional tournaments,” Crocker said.
“I learned a lot and that’s really all I wanted to do when I went there. It was a very good learning experience and now I know if I play my best golf I will be just as good as those guys, the only difference is that their bad golf is so good. When they play bad they still shoot three-under or four under and that’s why guys like Sergio Garcia are always at the top of the leaderboard because when they have that bad day, they scrap it around,” he said.
While in Germany, Crocker had the opportunity to mix and mingle with one of his favourite golfers, the reigning Masters Champion, Garcia.
“Since my management team’s main guy is Sergio, I got an opportunity to spend my time with him at the BMW International Open. It was an amazing opportunity to just pick his brain and hang out with him. He’s such a good guy because he doesn’t need to take care of a 20 year-old so for him to take me under his wing a little bit was awesome,” he said.