Chris Paisley now has the belief to push Tommy Fleetwood and Europe’s elite for the game’s biggest prizes.
Amazing what a win does for a player’s confidence.
Paisley’s chip-in eagle on the final hole helped he and Fleetwood finish fourth in the Zurich Classic. The former Tennessee player wouldn’t have had the self belief to team with Fleetwood a few years ago.
Paisley played with Fleetwood in the 2009 Walker Cup. While Fleetwood moved seamlessly onto the European Tour, Paisley doubted his ability. That doubt disappeared when he began this season by winning the BMW SA Open, his first European Tour victory.
“Belief is the obvious difference,” Paisley said. “I didn’t believe in myself as Tommy did. There’s a reason for that: I wasn’t as good a player as Tommy. Even now I’m not. So there’s good reason he succeeded more than me.
“I’ve got perfectionist tendencies. I’ve always been hard on myself and previously never thought my game was quite good enough.”
The soft-spoken man from Northeast England won the SA Open in style. He defeated Mr. 62, Branden Grace, by posting a closing 66. He followed it up with consecutive fifth-place finishes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“I doubted myself in the past in similar situations,” Paisley said. “I never quite felt comfortable enough to go on and have a final round like that. I used to wonder how I would hold myself together. It kind of felt quite easy.
“I’ve taken a huge amount of confidence from it. You can’t just pluck confidence out of thin air. It’s something you’ve got to build. I’ve learned I have the game to win. I’m a better player than I thought I was.”
That confidence could see Paisley joining Fleetwood on the PGA Tour. His Zurich finish means he’ll play this week’s Wells Fargo Championship. Apart from Tennessee, Paisley has an American wife, Keri. They have an Orlando base. So golf on both sides of the Atlantic is a desired step.
Paisley could even make his Ryder Cup debut this year.
“If you’d asked me about the Ryder Cup at the start of January, I’d have said it was a ridiculous thought,” Paisley said. “It still probably is, but not as ridiculous.”