Greene machine

2010-03-06 00:00

LIKE a duck to water, Daniel Greene has taken to life as a professional golfer with the same ease that personifies his swing on the course.

Startlingly, Greene had all but given up the ghost two years ago.

That all changed when he picked up his clubs and shot 71 at Gowrie Farm, despite not having picked up a club in four years.

“After that round, I realised that maybe there was something worth pursuing,” he reflects, as we plot our way around the selfsame Gowrie layout.

Greene’s remarkable rise is in keeping with those who had noted his natural ability.

He strikes the ball a fair old way, certainly much farther than my little 3-irons could reach, anyway.

With 2010 being his rookie season on the Sunshine Tour, Greene had steeled himself to just fight to keep his card for next season.

“It is a major worry when you come in, you know. You have to start well, you have to earn enough points to play in events.

“Luckily it is something that I don’t have to worry about now,” he says, grinning, after his top-three finish at the Dimension Data Pro-Am vaulted him to the head of the rookie rankings for the year.

Now on a month-long break after the “summer swing”, Greene can reflect on a very handy start to the paid ranks. “It’s a great spot to be in,” he adds, before quickly adding that he now needs to shift his goals.

“Now that I have started this well, the goal is definitely to be the top rookie at the end of the season.”

A good run in the more lucrative summer events has certainly placed Greene handily, but now he wants to press on.

He is a lively sort, always on the move and generally jovial.

So, how has the 24-year old found the pressures at the top?

“You know, I haven’t even thought about it,” he says earnestly.

“I decided to just play my game and not worry about anything else.”

He does, however, admit to an attack of nerves on the 72nd hole at the Dimension Data, when a poor chip cost him a finish of four straight birdies on the final day.

“I think I could have actually won there, but that’s easy to say every other week. You can hit the ball well, but your putts just don’t fall.”

As we trundle around the course, Greene is knocking them in from everywhere.

“I should have stuck with my old putter,” he laughs, recounting the dreaded three putts that have given his caddy near heart attacks.

“It is frustrating, but I guess that’s where you make your money — on the dance floor.”

Greene talks candidly about life on tour — living out of a suitcase, and how he much prefers to stay in the calmer climes of Nottingham Road rather than uprooting himself to head north.

“I am well placed down here, anyway, with my folks and friends around,” he explains.

“Besides, I just can’t stand the Joburg traffic!”

Greene’s unfussy approach has already secured him playing rights for next season, but he is not about to rest on his laurels.

“I don’t want to put pressure on myself, but I would like to build on the good start during the winter.”

Two years ago Greene was, in some ways, just a happy hacker.

Out of love with the game, he was just hitting balls for the heck of it.

Happily for him, that hacking has been fine-tuned to produce what is now a very solid golfer.

He also happens to be this year’s hottest new thing on the pro circuit.

Now if he can just keep that putter on the boil...

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