Spanish amateur champion McKenzie keen to learn from 2018 experiences

Billy McKenzie heads to Chile this weekend for the South American Amateur Championship knowing he has much to learn from his 2018 experiences.

Thursday, 3rd January 2019, 12:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 11:39 am
Billy McKenzie Picture: Andrew Griffin/AMG Pictures

The Rowlands Castle member, who has been included in the full England squad this season, is keen to add to his amateur roll of honour before he tackles the European Tour Qualifying School in the autumn.

Last term he claimed victory at the prestigious Spanish Amateur Championship '“ a triumph that helped propel him up the rankings.

And with the 24-year-old making his European Tour debut at the Spanish Open, he was clearly making a name for himself on the world stage.

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However, the former Berkshire and Tillman Trophy winner will be the first to admit he allowed the bigger picture to obscure his need to play each event one shot at a time.

McKenzie, who will compete for the South American title in Santiago between January 10-13, said: 'I was ranked about 250 in the world when I won in Spain.

'I then set the target of getting into the world top 50 because it helps you get exemptions into the big events, just as it does in professional golf.

'But it affected my golf, and as things turned out the rest of the season was poor and I didn't make it.

'That was the goal at the start, so not to achieve it was very disappointing.

'But I learned to not worry about each event and just play golf '“ the rest will take care of itself, so that is my plan for 2019.'

McKenzie will arrive in Chile just two days before competition begins.

That means he'll have little opportunity to adapt to the conditions and time difference.

But the Hampshire ace admitted his time in the southern hemisphere will provide a welcome opportunity to boost his game ahead of a gruelling season.

'I wouldn't be able to afford this trip if I had to do it on my own,' added McKenzie.

'It will just be nice to get a card in my hand again in the first event.

'I won't care about how I play as my preparation will not have been ideal '“ given the difference in weather and conditions.

'I want to be playing my best in the summer, so I am still working a few things out technically until then.

'The events that I'm playing in early this year won't get in the way of the bigger picture so results may not come at first. 

'But I can handle that better this year.'

Following his trip to Chile, McKenzie is due to accompany his England team-mates to Portugal for their annual warm winter training camp.

That will be followed by the Portuguese Amateur Championship at Montado Golf Resort between February 13-16.

McKenzie will then have the opportunity to defend his Spanish crown at Las Colinas on February 28.