Byrne targets Europe

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James Byrne has set his sights on qualifying for the European Tour.

The Banchory golfer won his first event last week at the Northern Open almost a year after turning to the professional ranks.

Byrne won the £4,000 prize and the prestigious title at Meldrum House with a 12-under par total of 268, made up of rounds of 66, 66, 66 over the parkland course.

The 23-year-old won by five shots from defending champion, David Law (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre), who won the title as an amateur 12 months ago, and David Orr (Mearns Castle Golf Academy).

Fellow Banchory golfer Greig Hutcheon, winner of the title two years ago, finished in fourth place.

Byrne said it felt like a huge weight off his shoulders when he finished his final round.

“It was mainly a feeling of relief, as with a six shot lead it felt like I had more to lose than to win,” he said.

“I hadn’t won as a professional yet so I was really keen to get that monkey off my back.

A six shot lead is always nice but with that comes the pressure of everybody expecting you to win. As a result, I spent most of the front nine looking over my shoulder, which is not how I normally play, but luckily I was able to refocus, play the back nine well and get the job done.”

Byrne, who has spent the majority of the season competing in Asia, admits that it has taken time to adjust to the pro ranks but believes he is more than capable of competing with the top players.

He said: “Of course the standard is a lot higher than the amateur game, but I haven’t really played my best golf yet so it’s tough to evaluate.

“I certainly haven’t been blown away by anyone I’ve played with on the European Tour, so I know it’s a fine line between success and failure there. Hopefully I can make the required improvements to my game and get on the right side of that line. 
“I was delighted to get my Asian Tour card in January and it’s been a great experience so far. Not many people get to travel the world and do what they love so I consider myself to be very fortunate.
Byrne is hopeful his maiden victory will encourage him to have a solid end to the season as he competes for a place on the European Tour.

“I plan to play the remainder of the Asian Tour season, except for a couple tournaments when I’ll come back to Europe to play European Tour School. It’s been a disappointing summer, but I still have a lot of golf to play in Asia and there are still plenty opportunities to make it a very successful first year.”