AFTER a fantastic amateur career that saw him win make more international appearances than any other golfer and beat Tiger Woods during a Walker Cup match, Gary Wolstenholme has now tasted victory success as a professional.
The EuroPro Tour’s MICHAEL EMONS spoke exclusively to Wolstenholme after his victory at Stoke By Nayland and found out how he hopes to be winning professional golf tournaments for a long time to come.
GARY Wolstenholme has made a life from golf â€“ and has no plans on quitting yet.
Wolstenholme has had a glittering amateur career but clinched his first ever professional tournament win when he triumphed at the Stoke-by-Nayland Championship 2010 on Thursday at the age of 49.
But Wolstenholme, who turns 50 next month, hopes to be playing competitive golf of a good standard until the day he retires.
â€œThe day I canâ€™t compete is the day I hang up my clubs but my intention is to keep competing for another 15 years,â€ said Cumbria-based Wolstenholme.
â€œIf I can do that then that would be great. Hopefully I will stay healthy and fit enough to be able to compete. I consider myself being very young for my age and I have a young personâ€™s attitude.â€
Awarded an MBE in 2007 for his services to golf, Wolstenholme won 218 caps for England, played in the Walker Cup six times, including a singles victory over Tiger Woods in 1995, and helped win the World Amateur Team Championship in 1998.
He only turned professional in 2008 aged 48 but insists he has no regrets about not turning professional earlier.
â€œIt crossed my mind turning professional earlier but by the time I thought I couldâ€™ve given it a shot I was 33 or 34 and thatâ€™s too late,â€ added Wolstenholme.
â€œIâ€™ve never had the financial backing to give it a go earlier but Iâ€™ve had an amazing time and been around the world.
â€œIâ€™ve played in the US Open and travelled to every continent and I might not have been able to do those things as a professional.
â€œI was at a home international a few years ago and I was playing with someone and he said this is my 18th Home International and he said he wasnâ€™t even born when I started playing in competitions.
â€œWinning this tournament at Stoke-by-Nayland is certainly up there with the other things Iâ€™ve achieved.
â€œThe fact Iâ€™ve achieved so much as an amateur doesnâ€™t matter as in effect youâ€™re back to square one as all of a sudden youâ€™re playing for your living.
â€œBut it was important for me to prove to myself and other people that Iâ€™m still a good player.
â€œThe EuroPro Tour is a good standard of play and the top ten or 20 are really good golfers.
â€œWhen youâ€™re playing for money even if youâ€™re not in contention you donâ€™t give up. You have to make the cut and get the money. All the money and points that you get added to your Order of Merit total really makes a big difference.
â€œAlthough Iâ€™ve played well recently, Iâ€™ve not been scoring well so to go out there and have three decent rounds and win a tournament by four shows that work has paid off.â€
Wolstenholme began the third day at Stoke-by-Nayland two shots behind overnight leader Brendan McCarroll but turned it round to lead by two going into the 17th, which proved to be a pivotal hole.
A badly hooked tee shot saw Wolstenholme have to attack as he shot â€˜Seve-Esqueâ€™ blindly over trees to get back on track, in a move that worked to perfection.
His victory in Essex leaves him in third place in the Order of Merit and if at the top five at the end of the season he will qualify for the Challenge Tour, although he has other targets.
â€œThe Seniors Tour is my goal without any doubt,â€ admitted Wolstenholme. â€œIâ€™ll be going to their Tour School in November but there are only six cards there.
â€œThere are a lot of good players so I will have to play really well if Iâ€™m going to get one of those six cards. It wonâ€™t be easy to get on to the Seniors Tour.
â€œBut I want to get to the EuroPro Tour Championships in Aphrodite Hills (in Cyprus) and Iâ€™m really enjoying playing on the EuroPro Tour. Golf keeps me young and Iâ€™ve always been a kid at heart. The fact that Iâ€™m playing with younger guys but can still compete and have a good level of ability in me is great.
â€œIf they give me the opportunity on the Challenge Tour I would certainly want to play some tournaments but my goal, without any doubt, is to get on the Seniors Tour.
â€œI love playing golf and I would definitely look for opportunities to play. There might not be Seniors Tour events every week so I might be on the Challenge Tour or EuroPro Tour at other times.
â€œI want to expand my experiences and play as many good golf courses as possible for as long as possible.â€