Golf: Psychology helps keep Paul Ferrier in the zone

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PSYCHOLOGY graduate Paul Ferrier hopes playing mind games will help him secure some ‘major’ rewards this weekend.

The Baberton player lined up at Troon today against Australian Matthew Stieger in the quarter-finals of the Amateur Championship.

Ferrier had upstaged members of the Scottish squad to keep the Saltire flying in Ayrshire along with local hero Jack McDonald. But the 23-year-old certainly didn’t feel he was in the last eight just to make up the numbers.

He’d played as well as anyone still in the reckoning to make it to the event’s penultimate day.

And the spots up for grabs in The Open, The Masters and the US Open in the next 12 months were getting tantalisingly close to his grasp.

“I have belief in myself and I’m not surprised I’ve got this far – but I’m very happy to have got to the quarter-finals,” said Ferrier after beating Italian Lorenzo Scotto with a birdie at the 19th.

Ferrier showed he had potential when winning the Scottish Boys’ Championship at Dunbar in 2007.

He also lifted the East of Scotland Open at Lundin last summer and admits he’s benefited in more ways than one from a four year-spell at UNC Charlotte.

“I got a degree in psychology and it helps you on the golf course to keep with the visualisation and also treating every shot the same,” he said “That’s what college golf in America is very good for. That and playing against top guys of such a good standard.”

Ferrier has his dad, Iain, caddying for him at the Open venue and admitted it’s been a team effort this week.

“I wouldn’t have got this far without him,” said the plus three man. “He’s a business analyst but he caddies for me through the summer and loves it.”

“He plays off seven and he’s also really good and keeping me playing in the gameplan, helping me when I fancy taking the driver. It is worth ten more yards, he keeps saying.”

Ferrier Snr can also read the line of a putt and the pair of them got the one spot-on that accounted for Scotto at the first extra hole.

“My mate shouted so loudly there was no doubt it was in,” said Ferrier of his delight at seeing that drop.

“It was just one of those putts you know you have the line and I thought it was in as I hit it.

No matter what happens from here on in, Ferrier has made the Scottish golfing public sit up and take notice.

There have been numerous instances of players winning the Scottish Boys then disappearing off the radar completely.

But, after following up his East Open success last summer with this performance, he clearly has a solid golf game.

Those tasty rewards up for grabs could be influential if he does go all the way and lands the title. But at some point in the future it seems certain that he’ll be returning to Charlotte.

If that happens to be this year, he’ll probably have a crack at trying to qualifying for the PGA Tour straight away.

“It’s a good life in America, on and off the course, and I’ll go back in August barring anything unforeseen,” he admitted. “Stage one of the PGA Tour School is at Irish Creek in Charlotte, which is sort of like our home course, and I’ll probably give that a go.”

Ferrier had fellow Scot McDonald for company as the amateur game’s blue riband event reached its penultimate day.

The Ayrshire ace won two tight games to secure his place in the last eight, one of them at the sixth extra hole.

“It’s been a lot of golf today but it’s worth it,” said the former Scottish Boys’ Stroke Play champion.

His opponent this morning was Englishman Toby Tree, who would be hard to fell if he reproduced the form that saw him hammer Walker Cup player Rhys Pugh.

“I knew I was playing well coming into this and I just have to keep going,” added McDonald.