First-Round Loss Hasn’t Grounded Flying Dutchman’s Confidence

TROON, SCOTLAND l Having lost to England’s Craig Hinton at the 19th in the first round of the Amateur, the 21-year-old Daan Huizing sat down on a bench outside the clubhouse and pondered on what might have been.
The Dutchman had taken the golfing world by storm when he won the Lytham Trophy by 11 shots and the St Andrews’ Links Trophy by a staggering 14, but it was thoughts of the Amateur which had filled his every waking hour. Apart from his competitive sorties to the UK (they were “warm-up” events to him), he had practised tirelessly on Holland’s seaside courses.
All square with Hinton after a birdie at the 16th, he had been poised to take the lead at the short 17th when he caught the green and Hinton finished wide of the right-hand bunker.
As it turned out, Hinton’s steaming chip cannoned into the flag and dropped for the most improbable of twos. It was a poignant moment, for no one who knew the 23-year-old Hinton’s story could begrudge him that bit of luck. Just over a year ago, he had suffered a heart attack during the Spanish Amateur championship and spent a week in intensive care.
When it came to the 19th, Huizing ran into the rough on the left with his hybrid and was unable to get any stop on the ball with his approach. Hinton, meantime, bisected the fairway with a 5-iron before hitting the perfect wedge to set up his match-winning birdie.
Huizing was maybe ruing the way he played that extra hole but, overall, his course management skills are light years ahead of those of his fellow amateurs and they cheerfully admit as much.
In terms both of looks and demeanour, he can put people in mind of Luke Donald who, it turned out, just happens to be his great hero.
“I admire Luke’s style and how he reached world No. 1 without trying to be something that he isn’t,” said the player. “He’s not like Tiger, he’s not that big and he doesn’t hit the crazy shots. He’s a good, solid golfer who’s shown us all that there’s more than one way to tackle this game.”
Last Monday night, Huizing telephoned his parents before they left for Scotland. He was not about to ask them to bring a favourite driver or putter but a book on economics. There is one last paper he must write before he graduates in law and economics from Utrecht University – something which will happen at much the same time as he turns professional.
His family are not alone in thinking that his studies have given him the strong mind he brings to bear on his golf.
“Daan is an amazing role model for us,” says Niels Boysen from the Dutch Federation. “He is calm, smart and very professional, especially when you consider his age. There’s a lot of organisation involved in combining his golf and his studies as he does and he’s in total control.
“He drinks only water and he doesn’t fool around because he doesn’t want to. Also, he’s too busy for that kind of thing.”
Huizing, whose mother, Jacobien, used to teach gymnastics and whose father, Nico, played tennis for the Dutch Youths’ side, was a good all-round sportsman before concentrating on golf during his high school years. He came under the Federation’s wing six years ago and is currently one of 10 on whom the Federation is spending between €50,000 and €100,000 per year. Every golfer in Holland – there are 385,000 playing the game out of a population of 16 million in this wealthy European land – pays €16 toward the development of young talent. In Spain, golfers pay as much as €70 per person.
When you inquire about the team Huizing has round him, it turns out that he has the same chief coach he has had all his golfing days in an Englishman by the name of Tim Giles. He also has a course management coach and a putting coach, though Boysen is quick to say that there is no question of the lad being over-coached: “He gets the right things out of the right person.”
Though some think Huizing’s secret lies in his meticulous pre-shot routine, Boysen says it is some concentrated work on the player’s putting mechanics which has made the difference. This summer, he has been holing putts from everywhere, with those who played with him at St Andrews still aghast at how he slotted 40-footers in the manner of one who expected to make them.
His father has calculated that his son’s handicap came down to plus-six after his twin stroke-play victories but handicaps no longer matter to Daan. For him, it is all about world rankings – he is currently No 5 – and his goals, the next of which is to make it through local Open qualifying on 3 July.
Because he was 7-under par in winning the Lytham Trophy and 23 under in winning at St Andrews, it goes without saying that even the top professionals will be keeping a wary eye on his progress.


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