King’s Lynn golfer Johnson hoping to go out on a high
King's Lynn's Luke Johnson is hoping to bring the curtain down on his amateur career with a flourish.
The 19-year-old Norfolk amateur champion has set his sights on breaking into the England squad for the Home Internationals in August before turning his attentions the European Tour Qualifying School the following month.
Johnson has been working hard over the winter to get his game into tip-top shape and he's hoping to fine-tune it over the coming months on the national amateur circuit before facing the rigours of Tour School.
'I've had a really solid winter, the standard is getting higher and higher every year and you just need to adapt to that,' said Johnson, who last week claimed a top 10 finish in the Darwin Salver at Rye Golf Club. 'I've kicked it up another gear this year. I've been putting a lot of work in. Yesterday I was on the putting green for four and a half hours. It's not the best thing to do but I've got to do it if I'm going to get to where I want to get to.'
He added: 'Rye is a quality golf course to start the year on, to get yourself tournament ready. It's a really good track.
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'We didn't have it too hard but just the general difficulty of the course made it tough to score. It always wins with over par scores. I've played there the last few years and I've never finished outside the top 10 and it was nice to do it again.
'It's a brutal golf course to start off with. It has one par 5 and it's just par 4 after par 4 where you're hitting four iron after four iron into the greens.'
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It's a steady start to what promises to be an exciting season for the teenager who now feels ready to take the plunge into the pro ranks, although he will be entering Q School as an amateur just in case things don't go to plan.
'My confidence is always high because I believe in what I can do but to start the year with a top 10 just boosts me on,' said Johnson. 'I'm at Berkhamstead for the Berkhamstead Trophy in a couple of weeks so it's similar sort of guys I'll be playing against so it should be good. I know that I'll be competing again.
'I want to get re-established back in the England squad. I got one cap for the Under-16's, but it was nice to be in among the guys who were getting looked at and I want to get back in that. Obviously it's then another hurdle I've crossed and I can get into more events which ultimately helps me get to where I want to get to.
'I don't want to blow my own trumpet but I know where I can perform at and hopefully with another year's experience of the amateur circuit and playing in a couple of different events like the Europro Tour then I'll playing at the sort of level I want to get to and beyond. It will be the best way to prepare me for the end of the year and Tour school. Tour school is the ultimate. It is a long process but there is no easy way of making the European tour. It's not going to come to me I've got to go and get it in a sense.
'It's all a learning curve this year. If it doesn't work out then I'll go away and go back next year. I'm not going out to Tour school as a pro just in case something does go wrong or I don't get a card. I've always got next year to bounce back as an amateur and build again.'
Johnson is one of a group of young Norfolk amateurs pushing for recognition this season, which also includes Costessey Park's Matthew Bacon, Caldecott Hall's Aaron Bullock and Royal Norwich's Tom Clements.
Johnson admits the 'band of brothers' ethos certainly helps to spur each other on to bigger and better results and also allows them at times to share the cost of travel and accommodation.
'We all want each other to do well,' said Johnson. 'I was drawn with Matty (Bacon) for the first two rounds of the Darwin Salver so it's good. I felt for him when he had a bad first round and he then had a better second round.
'It gives Norfolk a good name to have us all playing at this level and doing well. Me, Matty and Tom have been sponsored by Wilson for a while and it's nice we're getting the encouragement from other guys and manufacturers to help us go on.'
Johnson admits although there is a massive goal at the end of the season to look forward to he's still focused on doing well as an amateur and for the county set-up.
'I am still an amateur and I will focus purely on the events I've got left as an amateur and I want to do as well as i can,' he said.
'I want to play the home international for the men's England squad and it will be a reflection on how my season has gone if I'm in that squad. I've got to keep working and keep my foot on the gas.'