Kieran Cantley wins in just second event after finishing winter work behind desk
Kieran Cantley has hit the ground running after spending the winter working at a desk by tasting victory in only his second start in 2023.
The Edinburgh man’s success came in the Optilink Classic, an event on the Portugal-based PT Tour, courtesy of sparkling rounds of 66 and 69 for a nine-under-par total at Bom Sucesso, north of Lisbon.
He won by three shots from compatriot Calum Fyfe (71-67) and Swede Alfred Eriksson (70-68) in a field that also included the highly-rated young Englishman Ben Schmidt.
Cantley, who is part of Paul Lawrie’s Five Star Sports Agency stable, also came out on top over a posse of other Scots, including Sam Locke, Greg Dalziel, Neil Fenwick, Stuart McLaren and Darren Howie.
“This win came in only my second event of the year,” said Cantley, who played his amateur golf at Liberton. “I’ve been working for GolfClubs4Cash through the winter and only finished up about two weeks ago.”
He finished outside the top 30 in the Bom Sucesso Classic, won by Schmidt, after rounds of 75-74, but it was much more like it in the second leg of a double-header at that venue.
“The first one was a bit of a shock to the system as it almost didn’t feel real even though I was playing in a tournament,” added Cantley. “I just didn’t feel normal and accepted it was just going to take me a wee while to get back into tournament mode.
“Going into the second week, I felt much better, but to get a win so early in my season was definitely a bonus. I’ve been practising and doing everything I can to keep things ticking over the winter, but, no matter what you do, you can’t replicate tournament golf.
“I know it was at a mini-tour level, but it was still nice to win. I was surprised when I came out here where I saw the strength of the fields. There’s guys like Ricardo Santos who’ve held a main tour card and they’ve also probably been playing though the winter when I’ve been sitting in an office at a computer (laughing).”
Cantlay is hoping to produce another strong performance in the circuit’s Optilink Tour Championship, which starts on Saturday at Dom Pedro Laguna in Vilamoura and is a 54-holer, with a spot in the D+D REAL Czech Challenge in June up for grabs.
Last season, Cantley, who turned pro in November 2019 after winning the ProGolf Tour Qualifying School in Germany, made eight starts on the Challenge Tour and that will be his main focus again this year.
“I’ve got a wee bit of a category on the Challenge Tour,” he said. “It’s not great; I think I’ve got Category 19, which is basically the last one you can get, but, even with that, going off last year I might get as many as four starts just off that and I’ve got eight invites as well.
“If I had, say, 12, that would be a nice starter pack. I’m still going to try and play ten of the Tartan Pro Tour events, but, for me, I think the Challenge Tour has to be the main focus. I know that I am good enough and it just takes one week to provide that spark.”