MANX golfer Chris Kneen has set his sights on conquering the European golf circuit next year after recently turning professional.
The 23-year-old from Douglas, who graduated from the prestigious Washington State University this year with a degree in history, is to move to Spain in the new year as his fledgling golf career continues to reach new levels.
Kneen began playing golf at the age of 11 and was a member of several of the island’s golf clubs as he claimed the Island Under-14 championship trophy as well as the corresponding under-16, under-18 and Junior Masters titles.
He moved to the United States to study at Lewis-Clark State College in 2007 before switching universities two years ago.
During his time in America he competed in Pacific Conference Division One golf, following in the footsteps of legendary golfers such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey.
As a student at those institutions he has had access to some world class facilities on a much grander scale to what is available in the Isle of Man which should stand him in good stead for the future.
Now, having returned to the island in the summer, he is determined to fulfil his ultimate goal of carving out a professional career in the game. Kneen is to become an ambassador for an up-and-coming golf management academy and school in La Manga in the Murcia region. The partnership looks set to be an important for Chris as the company will help find sponsorship, something which is vitally important for him to further his playing ambitions.
Without sponsors, he would only be able to stay in Spain for a restricted amount of time and would only be able to play in a few tournaments. At the moment he is supported by his parents while the Isle of Man Golf Union tries to help out wherever it can.
Once out in Spain, the Manxman will practice intensely and compete in several tournaments in a bid to be ready for March when he will be participating in a qualifying school for the EuroPro Tour.
‘Barring a catastrophe I should be able to earn my tour card there, allowing me to compete in the EuroPro.’ anticipated Kneen. Depending on the financial situation, he will then compete in up to 12 competitions before, hopefully, a tour championship.
‘The standard of the tour is great. You only have to look at some of the golfers who have previously competed in it, such as Louis Oosthuizen who was a member in 2002-03 before going on to win the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews.’ said Kneen.
The top five in that will gain tour cards for the Challenge Tour - which is Europe’s second tier men’s professional golf tour - while several others will progress to the final stages of the qualifying school.
Successful competitors on the Challenge Tour earn their tour card for the prestigious European Tour which is second only to the American PGA Tour in terms of worldwide prestige.
‘In an ideal world I will do well in the EuroPro and move up to the Challenge Tour before hopefully going on to compete in the European Tour, although I will still be going to the European tour school while playing in those competitions.’
If anyone is interested in helping to support Chris as he embarks on this next important step in his career, email David.Norton@newsiom.co.im