MEXICO CITY | For a guy who’s never done this – never played in a PGA Tour event much less a World Golf Championship event – Chris Paisley made it look like no big deal Thursday at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
But that’s the kind of season it’s been for the 31-year-old so far.
Paisley, whose opening 66 at Club de Golf Chapultepec, left him one off Louis Oosthuizen’s first-round lead, isn’t necessarily new to the world golf scene but suddenly he’s making himself much more familiar.
Earlier this year, Paisley won the European Tour’s BMW SA Open, his first victory anywhere since a win on the 2012 Challenge Tour. The European Tour victory came after consecutive fifth-place finishes against star-stuffed fields at Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
“I’ve just been quietly confident in my game,” Paisley said Thursday, after carding seven birdies and a lone bogey.
Playing in his first WGC event is the next step for Paisley, who Tommy Fleetwood calls “my best mate.” Fleetwood is watching closely this week.
“There is no substitute for experience until you play on a Sunday in a WGC or a major or European Tour event or PGA Tour event,” Fleetwood said. “Until you play on a Sunday and you know how you feel and you know how you performed, you can’t fully tell yourself that you can do it or that you’ve done it. Nothing comes close to the experience of doing it.”
Last summer, Paisley was ranked outside the top 300 in the world. He entered play this week at No. 82 in the world.
Not bad for the 5-foot, 9-inch, 145-pounder who calls himself a “diminutive golfer from Newcastle” on his own Twitter account. He was amused when he saw himself described as diminutive a few years ago and admitted he didn’t know what the word means. Now, Paisley embraces it.
As for being among the first-round leaders in his first WGC, Paisley is still getting used to it but he likes it.
“I think I maybe caught myself on the last few holes there, I got a little bit ahead of myself and kind of realized where I was,” he said. “But just to be playing so well and kind of competing with guys like this is fantastic.”