'Once you're turning down events – that's where you want to be'
The last time Jack Singh Brar was in Abu Dhabi was when he was 14 and playing in the Daily Telegraph finals. Eight years on he’s getting his European Tour year going after getting off the Challenge Tour at the first attempt.
At the start of 2018 he held no status and was playing the Alps Tour – he achieved his first win as a pro in Egypt in the February – so the goal was to play his way into a category for the Challenge Tour this season.
His first start brought four rounds in the 60s in Turkey and a tie for 2nd, there were four more top 10s, a three-shot win in France and he ended the year in 6th spot on the money list.
Then, only last week, he was in the hunt for his first European Tour victory in Kenya…
The Challenge Tour is meant to be a learning process and a real battle to get off it yet you managed it at your first attempt…
I was 2nd in that first event and I didn’t realise how big that was at the time. I was obviously happy at the time but I didn’t quite know what it meant further down the line and I got a full season after that.
Because it was all new it felt fun to me but when you’re on it for five years it would get in your head a little bit. You need a lot of length towards the end of the season when the big money comes in at the resort courses where you can just smash it but in Europe it’s not as much, it’s more important in China and the Grand Final and places like that.
How pleased were you for your Walker Cup partner Scott Gregory to come through Q School?
Definitely, Scott had a wrist injury through the season which is never good and Q School is so gruelling. I’ve never even been to third stage but I’ve heard stories of how long it is. It must be so weird to play four rounds and you haven’t achieved anything at that point.
I only know the Challenge Tour boys on the main tour, I obviously know a lot of the other faces but I don’t know them so it will be nice to have someone to play practice rounds with.
What about the late invites and the need to learn the courses?
Luckily I didn’t have any late invites so I could plan at the start of the season where my seven invites/starts would be and I got all the ones I wanted so I knew in January where I would be playing.
After my good start I could turn down events which is where you want to be. I got some late invites into some European Tour events and it’s hard to get your head in the game even though it might be three or four days before. But you’re not in tournament mode as you’re practising and thinking about starting your winter work but you’re not going to turn anything down.
Thankfully I had a few sponsors too – Nike, the Blackmore Group and Pulseroll – so I also didn’t have to worry quite as much for funds. And then that first tournament set me up for the rest of the season.
What did you do about a caddie on the Challenge Tour and what will you do this year?
I had Dan (Clark) with me all of last year and it will be the same this. We got together at the end of 2017, he was working for an IT company, was an assistant, and he didn’t want to go down the PGA route. He had caddied for Gary Emerson a bit on the seniors tour and asked before but I was in no position. Then I turned pro and wanted someone local and quite young and we got together.
It is quite a big advantage as a lot of the guys are pulling their own trolley and it’s only until get the final few events when most players have caddies.
It’s just a question of funds as you might play alright and just make the cut but you’re still losing money and then you have to pay out a caddie.
How much does a full-time amateur career and your time with England Golf help for when you turn pro?
I’ve played in a lot of countries, I played the US Amateur a couple of times and it does help but only a little bit. You are so well looked after and then you go home for a month.
As a pro it is a lot more relentless and there is a lot more time away. Last year I played 17 events on the Challenge Tour and 26 in total but it feels like a long time away. You don’t feel like you’re living a life as it’s the gym and then the course and the hotel so ideally you won’t be more than four weeks away but sometimes you don’t get the opportunity to say no to some things.
Interview continues on the next page where Jack talks us through a couple of strange incidents at the Walker Cup and having a global superstar for a manager…