By Kent Gray
Chris Paisley has found the sweet spot between lingering self-doubt and sensational golf and intends on riding the form wave of his life as long as possible.
A fortnight after his breakthrough European Tour triumph in South Africa and a week after his impressive T-5 follow-up in Abu Dhabi, the 31-year-old Englishman again finds himself on the front page of red-hot leaderboard at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
A seven-under 65 left him just three strokes off first round pole-sitter Jamie Donaldson and surfing along at a scarcely believable 45 under par for his last nine rounds.
“It’s obviously really nice to keep it going. You have a lot of hard times in golf and just trying to ride the wave and enjoy it while I’m playing well,” said the former University of Tennessee player.
“I don’t feel like I’m trying to force anything. I’m just kind of taking each shot as it comes and just playing really solid golf. So that’s good fun.”
Paisley’s eight-birdie, one-bogey lap of the Majlis Thursday was indeed a dandy round but while it may have looked a breeze in the breathless conditions, he’s still having to keep tabs on his emotions.
“I’ve always been the first to kind of doubt myself. That’s kind of not there at the moment, which is really nice,” said Paisley who finished a lowly 112 in last season’s Race to Dubai.
“The kind of strategy I’ve been going with recently is to be sensibly aggressive. Obviously on a day like this, the guys are going to shoot good scores but you don’t want to force it too much, either. Obviously my confidence is kind of up… Just making good swings at smart targets and giving myself a lot of birdie putts.”
With his wife Kerrie on his bag as a 11th hour replacement in Gauteng, Paisley’s three-stroke win at the BMW SA Open and solid Abu Dhabi retort has seen him bank €254,545 in the past fortnight. It’s propelled the world No. 96 up to fourth in the early Race to Dubai standings with €272,400 from four starts (including a payless missed cut at the Australian PGA before Christmas) and sees him on the cusp of qualifying for golf’s top tournaments. It’s not bad for a player whose previous pro wins came on the lowly Alps Tour and at the 2012 English Challenge, a Challenge Tour event.
“I’m trying not to be too comfortable because I tend to play my best when I put myself under a little bit of pressure, obviously not too much but I don’t want to get too comfortable and think I’ve got an exemption or whatever.
“I want to push on, and got a chance of getting into the WGC in Mexico, and if I get in that, then who knows. I’m really just kind of trying to keep doing what I’ve been doing.”