Uihlein’s Great European Adventure

VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND | The BMW PGA Championship, under its black skies, was as good a place as any to identify those who have that extra something it takes to light up the professional scene. England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Eddie Pepperell passed the test, as did America’s Peter Uihlein who, for the record, finished in a share of 12th place after making the field with his win in the Madeira Islands Open. True, the 23-year-old Uihlein was cushioned against the Wentworth chill by that first victory, but there is an inner glow about this second son of Acushnet CEO Wally Uihlein that has little to do with how he is playing. He is, quite simply, revelling in tackling things the hard way. “All the opportunities I’ve had in golf,” he explains, “have been earned. They’ve not been based on my last name.” When Uihlein, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion, failed to win playing rights in the U.S., he could easily have got by on invites. Instead, he heeded the combined wisdom of his father, Butch Harmon and ISM agent Chubby Chandler and headed for Europe. It did not take much persuasion on his elders’ part. After all, this was the route favoured by Adam Scott. “As far as I’m concerned,” said Uihlein, “Adam always does the right thing. He’s definitely a ‘world’ player and that’s what I want to be.” Not too many of the Challenge Tour habitués knew anything about Uihlein or his father when first he appeared on their patch. England’s Simon Wakefield, who was demoted to this secondary circuit for 2012, said that he was in the dark for months: “Peter never mentioned anything about his background. He was just a regular chap who mixed in with the rest of us, no bother.” Not, mind you, that Uihlein has ever had any problems in handling questions about his family. When, in amateur days, friends would ask for a handful of golf balls, he would cheerfully remind them that it was his dad who worked for Acushnet and not him. (Even now, he enjoys pointing to how he has had the same set of blades in his bag since 2002.) At 13, Uihlein went as a boarder to the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Aware as he is that people believe that his mother, Tina (a former Maryland Women’s Amateur finalist), went with him, he preempts any questions on that front by stating that he was there on his own. And that it was only after a couple of years that his mother was in a position to join him for short spells.


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