Norfolk’s William Harrold claims hat-trick of wins on Hi5ProTour in Spain
Norfolk's William Harrold has got his fledgling professional career off to a flying start having claimed a hat-trick of wins on the Hi5ProTour in Spain.
But the 23-year-old former Gresham's pupil, who has been a pro for just three months, is adamant he'll be keeping his feet firmly on the ground. Harrold, who has only recently returned from four years studying at Missouri University in the United States, where he was on a golf scholarship, is keen to consolidate his position after what has been a whirlwind start to the year.
'Obviously I like to win but it wasn't exactly one of my goals,' said Harrold, a former member at Sheringham Golf Club, who took the decision to go to Spain for six weeks to boost his competitive experience. 'My goal was just to come out and get some experience and play and then I got slightly better every tournament. It was cool.'
Harrold, who lives at Guestwick, is no stranger to top-class competition, though, having played in the pressurised atmosphere of college golf in the States against the likes of PGA graduate and tour winner Rickie Fowler, who at time represented Oklahoma State.
'It's a pretty good route to go through the college system in the States. At the time my handicap wasn't good enough to get in the major amateur tournaments in England and Europe so it was like an awesome opportunity for me to compete against some of the best amateurs in the States while also getting a qualification.'
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Having graduated in December and returned home, Harrold refused to rest on his laurels and soon jetted off to Spain where, as well as winning two strokeplay competitions, he also overcame a former European Tour pro, Florian Fritsch, to clinch the Hi5 match play final.
'I found the Hi5 tour and at this time of year there's not much going on and I figured it would be awesome to have a six-week mini tour to get me started,' said Harrold, who remained calm under pressure to win his second strokeplay title, around Lumine Hills, knowing it was his to win going into the last few holes.
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'I was told I was in the lead just as I was going to hit my wedge shot into the 17th and I landed it to within a foot and that pretry much closed the deal for me.
'I've been working on the mental side of my game and I just kept telling myself that when you do feel the pressure think of it as a good thing because all of the things that you've been practising are supposed to come out in these situations and that was my way of coping with it.'
The wins also helped Harrold prove to himself that he was heading out on the right path.
'I know they were only small tour events but there were still some good quality players on it so it has given me a boost,' he said. 'Apart from winning my club championship at Sheringham, I haven't really won anything. I think I need to prove something to myself especially at this stage in my golf.'
Harrold now aims to spend the year competing on the EuroPro Tour with a place on the Challenge Tour providing an incentive if any was needed.
'Until I played in the last tournament I was dead set on going back to America to play on a mini tour in Carolina, which all my former team-mates at Missouri are playing on,' said Harrold. 'But after the last event some of the guys who run it and Florian Fritsch, the guy who I beat in the matchplay, kind of recommended that I play in Europe and on the EuroPro tour.
'This is big for me and it has all come a bit quick but if you can finish in the top five on the EuroPro order of merit then there is a chance you can earn your challenge tour card that way, whereas in America you can earn quite a lot of money on the mini tours but there isn't anywhere to go from there. You've still got to go to qualifying school, so that is what I've learnt.
'I know EuroPro is really competitive and is really top heavy so if you do well you get rewarded, but you could have top 20 finishes all year and not do so well,' added Harrold, who is coached by renowned instructor Scott Cranfield.
'I've got to sign up by March 20 but it's difficult though as I have life going on in America, I've got a lot of friends out there and an apartment. But I think it might be easier to play in England where I've got a bit more support.
'It's big expectations and I'm not saying that it is going to happen but I want to have something knowing that if you do finish well on the EuroPro tour at the end of the year it gives you the opportunity to get your Challenge Tour card. It is obviously a good motivational thing to have.'
Hi5 ProTour director Wayne Hachey, who witnessed first hand the rise of former European No 1 Martin Kaymer, is certainly impressed with what he saw in Harrold.
He said: 'He has a great disposition and handled himself very well during our winter events. I could see him growing from week to week and gaining confidence along the way. I have had the likes of Martin Kaymer and many others during my 15 years operating pro events. I think William will have a great future.'