Cape Town - Turning professional during a global pandemic was always going to be tough. But after a stellar amateur golf career, Robin Tiger Williams is ready to compete with the best players on the planet.
The 20-year-old South African-born English golfer started his journey in the paid ranks in June this year after quite a journey as an amateur.
Williams, who moved to England as an eight-year-old, represented that country as a junior and a senior at amateur level and also turned out for Europe in the junior Ryder Cup. He also won a professional golf tournament as an amateur in Jordan.
At the 2018 Ryder Cup in France he came face to face with his idol, who he was named after.
The great Tiger Woods was filmed chatting to Williams during a practice round ahead of the Ryder Cup, with the Stellenbosch-born Tiger not wasting any time telling his 15-times Major winner how much he adores him.
When Williams swings a golf club - and you witness his mannerisms on the course - you can see that he has been carefully watching Woods.
But to mimic Woods’ career is going to take something really, really special, though, but Wiliams certainly has the same work ethic as his hero, Tiger Woods.
His journey in the pro ranks has brought him back to the land of his birth where he has played in two tournaments so far, and is hoping to get a few more invites to the big co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour-European Tour events over the next few months, while qualifying for the SA Open is also a big goal for the youngster.
The shot of the day belongs to Tiger.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 29, 2017
Robin Tiger Williams that is 👏![CDATA]>👏 pic.twitter.com/ybl3VwAzVr
Williams finished tied for 20th in a Big Easy Tour event at Pecanwood, before finishing eighth in the South African PGA Tournament at St Francis Links.
“It’s good to be back home, good to be back in the sun again,” Williams told IOL Sport.
“It was good to have my family with me on that last day at St. Francis, supporting me. I hoped to do a bit better, but I hoped I made them proud.”
After a terrible start in the PGA - Williams was 5-over after six holes - he fought back bravely to record a first round score of 74.
However, the kid caught fire on the dangerous coastal layout with a 67 and a blistering 65 to see him go off in the final pairing with eventual winner Dean Burmester on the Sunday.
Williams finished tied for eighth after missing a putt that would have shot him up to fifth and automatic entry into the Joburg Open. But it was an experience that showed him what it takes to compete with the big boys.
“Burmy played some unbelievable golf, he didn’t miss a shot,” Williams said.
“It was nice to witness that inside the ropes, to see a guy who is on the main tour and makes the big money, what you need to do to win big tournaments.
“I felt my game is alright, and I hit the ball nicely, but I made a few mistakes which cost me. But considering I was 5-over after six holes on Thursday and finishing eighth, I will definitely take that.”
Williams said missing the automatic entry into the Joburg Open “stings”, but it’s something that will help his game grow, as the demands on the professional golfer is a lot greater than in the amateur ranks.
The stakes couldn’t be any higher.
“I was one shot away from qualifying for the Joburg Open, which stings a little bit, but it was still a great week,” Williams said.
“I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for an invite to the Joburg Open and then there is an SA Open qualifier. Hopefully things can go my way, which will open a lot of doors for me.
“It was nice to get that experience, because it’s a massive jump from the amateur ranks.
I’m doing this for a living now, I can see that you have to be a lot more on your game. In the amateur ranks you can get away with a lot and still win, but as a professional, if you want to win, or even just compete, you have to find that level of consistency.
“I had to adjust my game and adjust my mindset of how I go about tournaments, but I think I’m getting the hang of it,” Williams added.