North Middlesex golfer Andrew Johnston says the pressure is off after winning his second European Challenge Tour event in France and moving top of the rankings.
Twenty-five-year-old Johnston won the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in France after finishing with a four-stroke lead over Clement Sordet to net €32,000 in prize money.
And Johnston, who only recorded his maiden European Challenge Tour victory at the Scottish Hydro Challenge at the end of June, sits top of the Challenge Tour rankings after becoming the first player on the tour to earn in excess of €100,000 in prize money this year.
Finishing in the top 15 will guarantee Johnston, who joined North Middlesex Golf Club at the age of eight, his European Tour Card for 2015.
After success in France, Johnston says the pressure is off, with the job of securing his card for next year as good as done.
He said: “It’s massive, massive; I’ve got nothing to really worry about. I can go into events and really enjoy them you know, and have no pressure.”
‘Beef’ as he is known to friends and family, trailed by three shots going into the final round but rapidly made his way through the field with six birdies and an eagle in the last 15 holes to claim victory with a 16-under-par score of 268.
But Johnston, who turned professional in 2009, insists he refused to put himself under any extra pressure as he began the round.
He said: “I just thought I could get a good round in and a good finish and just sort of play well and see what happens, not put myself under any pressure to go out and try and win it.
“You just want to try and put yourself in a position to get it up there and sort of see what happens.”
For Johnston, the recent upsurge in form has been less remarkable than it might immediately appear to an outsider, with a recent training camp in Portugal the factor he pin-points when explaining his first two wins.
“I just put it down to winter training and good preparation,” Johnston explained. “I’ve played good all year and it’s just sort of happened now. I thought maybe it might have happened earlier or a bit later, but it’s just happened now.
“I went to Portugal; a place called Amendoeira Golf Resort. I just practiced and spent a lot of time down there. My coach came out for quite a long time with me at periods. I trained a lot more and saw a different personal trainer, so I’ve done a lot more fitness work and just put a lot of work in overall.”
Johnston is now in Azerbaijan, preparing for The Azerbaijan Golf Challenge Open, which begins today (Thursday) at the National Azerbaijan Golf Club and admits his two recent wins will afford him the luxury of being able to select which events he enters for the rest of the year.
“I can pick and choose and hopefully I’ll get some main tour starts as well and get some European tour starts because they’ve opened up the lower categories for that,” revealed Johnston.
“So [the aim is to] try and play a few more of them now as well. I have the option; I can go and play them, because it doesn’t matter if I miss a couple of tournaments.”