Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

'It beats you up' - Sebastian Heisele can plan for bright future despite mixed fortunes at Omega Dubai Desert Classic

German was living the dream before a tough finale

For the first 46 holes of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Sebastian Heisele must have felt like he was living the dream he had always had.

He was 6-under par and within striking distance of the leaders, in the city where he grew up, on the course where he was club champion multiple times, and in a tournament in which he caddied when he was a teenager.

So remarkable was his story, he had just been interviewed live on Sky Sports about it, on his walk from the 6th tee box, while family and friends bloated the gallery following his match.

The way his tournament closed from that point on, though, left him wishing he had opted for a proper job instead of being a European Tour pro.

Pink Saturday turned into Black Sunday literally and figuratively.

On moving day, he wore a pale pink shirt. All players had at least one item of clothing of that colour, while the flagsticks and even the cups were pink in recognition of breast cancer research.

A day later, his mood was as black as his shirt, as his short game folded. On Sunday, he signed for 83, leaving him 8-over for the tournament.

As Australian Lucas Herbert prevailed in a play-off against South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Heisele was left in a tie for 66th.

In all, his past two weeks in the UAE – he finished tied 21st in Abu Dhabi a week earlier – represent a solid start to the campaign, having joined the tour after finishing fourth on the Challenge Tour last year. But the German saw it as a missed opportunity.

“There were two weeks were I was in a decent position and didn’t finish it off,” Heisele, 31, said.

“There are a couple of positives to take out of it. Coming off last year, it was something that I anticipated, being able to compete at the highest level.

“I had a couple of decent results under my belt on the European Tour [in 2018] as well. From the success we had then, it was a booster going into this year.

“Abu Dhabi was a good start, and the first two days in Dubai were continued success.”

Heisele will compete in the third leg of the Desert Swing, at the Saudi International this weekend.

It is another chance to consolidate his position among the elite of the European Tour.

That is a position he admits he once felt he would never reach, having only turned pro in his mid-20s after completing his architecture studies at college in the United States.

“To be honest, I didn’t really see a career in professional golf once I started there,” Heisele said.

“I was keen to finish, then give it a go. I had had a little bit of success as a junior, and an amateur on the pro circuits in Germany.

“That was when it kicked off for me and I thought there might be a career for me.

“But on days like [Sunday] I would rather be sat in an office somewhere doing something else.

“There were a couple of times that I thought about my standing in the game and my career, and looked at other things.

“That is just the nature of the game. It beats you up, and then you start wondering.”

Given the solid outings he has had the past two weeks, he can plan for a bright future, though.

He is 66th in the Race to Dubai. A place in the top 50 would see a return to Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, but the Munich-based player says his focus is mostly on retaining his Tour card.

“I think we would all like to play DP World at the end of the year, and that means we have to be 50 in the rankings,” Heisele said.

“That is a target we set for ourselves, but I will be happy to stay out for the year to come, meaning 110th.

“To be 50th at the end, getting to play Jumeirah [Golf Estates], would mean a lot.

"It would mean it had been a good year, but it is early days. I want to quickly forget about this weekend and move on.”

Updated: January 27, 2020 12:10 PM

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