DUNBAR’S Danny Kay is hoping a return to the Ayrshire air can help him kick-start a season that promised so much but has fallen flat.
The 21-year-old is making his debut in the Amateur Championship starting at Royal Troon and Glasgow Gailes on Monday. Sandwiched between those two courses is Western Gailes, where Kay reached the final of the Scottish Amateur Championship last summer.
That performance helped earn him a place in the SGU elite squad as well as trips to Abu Dhabi and South Africa over the winter. But since the domestic campaign teed off Kay has been off colour and missed out on Scotland’s Test match against South Africa at Prestwick this week.
“My season so far could have gone better,” he admitted. “I’ve been struggling a little bit with a couple areas of my game and that has been stopping me from going forward after my strong finish to last year.
“One of the strongest areas in my game has always been driving, but I have been getting myself into trouble off the tee so I’ve been working hard on that down at The Renaissance (where he works).
“Slowly but surely, I feel I’m getting there. I feel more confident again so I am looking forward to next week and hopefully I can have another strong second half to the season.
“I’m ambitious, so I want to move forward. But, at the same time, I appreciate you are going to have hitches.
“It’s about putting in the hard work and making it better. I’ve been talking a lot with my coach Colin Brooks and he has been encouraging me to think of good times like the Scottish Amateur last year. That’s what I’ve been doing and it’s why I am really looking forward to next week. Hopefully it can be the start of a good run that will build my confidence up.”
Kay will be up against some of the world’s top amateurs in Ayrshire, where the 288-strong field includes Daan Huizing, the Flying Dutchman who had runaway wins in both the Lytham Trophy and St Andrews Links Trophy this year. “Playing in events like this is where you want to be,” added Kay. “You want to compete against the top amateurs in the world.”
On Huizing, who won by a record 14 shots at St Andrews last weekend, he said: “You could say I was pretty impressed by him. In fact, I think he must have missed out a few holes as his scoring was awesome.
“The weather for the first round was horrible so to shoot 65 [on the New Course] in that was fantastic.
“This is my first time in the Amateur Championship. It was only at the end of last year that I earned World Ranking points for the first time and that’s what has got me in next week.
“I am looking for a couple of solid stroke-play rounds to get me into the match-play. I will then try and take each match as it comes, as I did in the Scottish Amateur when that showed anything can happen in match-play.”
One of the perks Kay enjoys working at The Renaissance Club is being able to use the practice facilities there and he says something special is being created by Jerry Sarvadi and his team at the East Lothian venue.
“It’s all go at the moment and the new clubhouse is going up so quick,” he said. “It’s a special place to be.”