Why the rise? One contributing factor would be Uihlein’s move from Orlando, Fla., to West Palm Beach
to be closer to his trainer and instructor Claude Harmon III .
Uihlein, 24 , had success in the amateur ranks, winning the 2010 U.S. Amateur . But when he decided to turn professional in 2012, he took the unusual step for an American of playing on the European Challenge Tour instead of the traditional Web.com Tour route to the PGA Tour. A victory at the Madeira Islands Open in Portugal in May opened the floodgates . When he narrowly missed out on victories a couple of weeks apart at the ISPS Handa Wales Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland in September , it was clear the former Oklahoma State player made the right choice in the offseason.
“I remember sitting down with Butch (Claude Harmon’s famous father, who sometimes advises Uihlein) and trying to figure things out, what I needed to change and what I needed to work on,” Uihlein said. “ I was able to do that. I’ve been driving the ball very well this year, and I’ve been hitting it straight enough and been able to attack. My scoring clubs have been good and putting has been solid .”
Uihlein was 15th in scoring average (70.42) and 31st in putting (29.2 putts per round) on the European Tour in 2013. More impressive was that Uihlein finished 14th in the Race to Dubai money rankings, ahead of players such as Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer.
Uihlein won 1,360,268 euros (about $1.865 million) in 24 starts on the European Tour. He has his sights on the PGA Tour but wants to do it his way : keeping his European Tour card and trying to crack the top 50 in the world rankings . (He is 65th in the Official World Golf Ranking.) Uihlein said his 2014 goals include “(the) top 50, get a little more established, and then get into all those majors, WGCs, and obviously, you’d like to contend .”
Uihlein says: “I worked my tail off, I felt like, much harder than I had in the past, and I was able to kind of turn it around and gain some confidence . There’s never really been a substitute for hard work, and I feel like that was what I was able to do.”