Scott Gregory feels he is on the way back to his best after admitting his game had become affected by his England recognition.
The Waterlooville-based amateur has had a disappointing run of results this season by his own high standards but stormed back to form and made it to the last eight of the English Amateur Championship last week –the competition where he enjoyed a remarkable run to the final last year.
The Corhampton amateur will now be aiming to build on that confidence-booster at the European Amateur Championship, which starts tomorrow at Penati Golf Resort in Slovakia.
But having received England recognition on the back of his stellar 2014 season, Gregory revealed he has found it hard to live up to the expectations he placed upon himself.
He said: ‘I realised I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself so last week I made sure to just go out and enjoy what I was doing and it paid off.
‘I was trying to force a score because of the England badge I have to my name.
‘It felt like every time I played, I thought I had to shoot a low score.
‘But I’ve realised that I needed to focus on just posting the best score I can and not worry if I drop a shot early on or care about what people think of me as an England international.
‘It was all just the mental approach.
‘I never once doubted my skills with a club but I just let my own expectations get in the way of playing with a bit more freedom.
‘Now it feels as though I’m turning a corner with my game and psychologically.
‘I was very pleased with the way I played last week and the confidence is back.’
It’s been a harsh but valuable lesson for the 20-year-old who flew under the radar for much of last season.
But his results ensured he is now subjected to much more attention.
He said: ‘The season hasn’t been as good as I hoped as I was putting too much pressure on myself. It just took a while to realise it.
‘Now I have a better view and mindset on my game, I can play some better golf.
‘But I feel like this season has been a massive learning curve for me.
‘It is the first time I’ve played some of these events and I’ve learned a lot.
‘I’ve gained a lot of experience that I can use next season and try to compete in these events more with this knowledge.
‘Sometimes, you have to have a setback in order to get better.’
While Gregory went the furthest, he was not the only local golfer to progress to the matchplay phase of the tournament.
Darren Walkley went out at the last-32 stage, while Hayling team-mate Ben Wall reached the last-16 after both made it through the rain-reduced qualifier at Alwoodley.
But Gregory is now approaching the tournament against the cream of Europe’s amateur golfers in positive mood.
And he believes the Penati course suits his game.
He said: ‘I’m excited for this week.
‘My game feels solid at the moment and the course is lovely.
‘You have to be straight and precise with all clubs which I like.
‘But a nice finish would be a good way to end the big tournaments this year.’