x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ross Canavan sets sights on cracking world's top 50 golfers rankings

The Englishman has a target of two years to be playing alongside the best golfers in the world.

Ross Canavan did not pick up a golf club until he was 15 years old.
Ross Canavan did not pick up a golf club until he was 15 years old.

Ross Canavan is one of the most amiable young men on the Mena Tour, but when he talks about the game that has gripped him for the past decade he becomes strikingly candid, almost blunt.

"I won't stop until I'm top 50 in the world," said the Englishman as he prepares to hand over the Ras Al Khaimah Classic trophy he won last year at Tower Links Golf. Canavan struggled on the second day after firing a second round 72, matching the score of the previous day. "That may sound a little arrogant but I've been raised to believe in myself.

"You can't really predict what's going to happen tomorrow so you better believe you're going to make it happen. I've got another two years until I feel there are no excuses for me not to be playing with the best in the world. But I've still got a lot of tournament experience to get under my belt."

In his own words, given in a thick American accent borrowed from 10 years spent in the States, Canavan is "catching up real quick". Born in London, he did not pick up a golf club until he was 15, favouring instead the team sports of football - his father played professionally - and rugby.

Captivated by the independence afforded by golf, Canavan excelled while studying sociology at the University of Oregon and did enough to convince himself to turn professional 18 months ago.

The 25 year old upped sticks to Bangkok to sample life on the Asian and Far Eastern tours, becoming something of a golfing nomad.

In all, he has travelled to 23 countries in 24 months - "I haven't been on a date in two years" - yet the globetrotting shows little sign of abating with tournaments scheduled in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Nicknamed "The Yank" by his closest friends, Canavan eventually plans to resettle in London, but for now he is determined to continue reaching for the stars.

"I've done really well to get where I am at right now, because in golfing terms I'm still a baby," he said. "I'm pleased with what I've accomplished, but I've set some very high goals.

"I know what I'm capable of so I'm relentless. There's been a lot of hotel rooms and I miss my family, yet I've got a really strong support system and some great people sponsoring me. It keeps me going."

Extra motivation was gleaned from the 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Last year's RAK victory helped Canavan finish fourth in the Order of Merit, one place outside the three spots given to compete in the established European Tour event.

However, a last-minute invite ensured his participation at Emirates Golf Club and, despite missing the cut - he finished nine-over par for two rounds - Canavan's description of the experience ensures those three coveted 2013 Classic slots, to his Mena Tour peers at least, will attain a new sheen.

"Once I stepped into that tournament and played a couple of days with those guys I saw what I really wanted to do," he said. "You always dream about warming up alongside Martin Kaymer and shooting the ball with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Fred Couples.

"The first day I walked on to on the range, Freddie came up to me and said 'you should be very proud of yourself, congratulations on getting into this event'. To have somebody like that, that you've always watched and looked up to, it was just the little taste I needed.

"I now know it's everything I want to do and I want it week-in, week-out. I want to be playing in those events. The Classic is the most monumental experience in my golf to date, even over the win here last year. That was special but nothing like teeing it up with the best in the world."

Couples, a former US Masters champion, still found time to burnish the memory yet further.

"I walked on the tee on Thursday morning and was so nervous, but I caught this 'Hey Ross ... Ross!'" he said. "And I looked over and it was Freddie, at 7:30am, going 'Go get 'em today'.

"I completely loosened up. He'd made me feel one of them. You're a rookie, new to the experience and not even sure if you're meant to be there, but now I want more of it. And I won't stop until I get there."

 

jmcauley@thenational.ae