Paul Waring is finally a European Tour winner after getting his hands on the Nordea Masters trophy in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was a day Waring thought might never come.
The 33-year-old Waring is another to come off the same English production line that has generated Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Eddie Pepperell and many others. Unlike Fleetwood and Co., he’s had to overcome injuries that nearly ended his career.
Waring couldn’t keep the grin of his face after he defeated Thomas Aiken at the first hole of a sudden-death playoff after the pair finished regulation tied at 14 under. Waring realized a boyhood dream when the South African messed up the par-5 18th hole by slicing his tee shot into a water hazard en route to a bogey. It meant the man from Birkenhead, England, only had to par the hole to pick up the $286,000 first-place check.
“I’m obviously ecstatic,” Waring said. “I wasn’t sure this day would ever come in total honesty. I tried so hard for many years to get to this point and managed finally to cross the line.
“It wasn’t easy. I felt really in control though. I’ve made a few swing changes so I was kind of allowing myself to hit bad shots now and again. So there wasn’t too much pressure.”
Waring seemed destined for multiple European Tour wins as an amateur. He won the 2005 English Amateur Championship and narrowly missed out on one of 10 Walker Cup spots on Colin Dalgleish’s 2007 team, which included Rory McIlroy and which lost at Royal County Down. Most experts predicted Waring would go on to have an excellent European Tour career.
He turned professional in 2007, before a series of wrist and shoulder injuries forced him out of the game for long periods. He earned his card through the European Tour qualifying school on his first attempt and hung onto his card for his first three seasons. However, a wrist injury allowed him to make just 21 appearances in 2011 and ’12 combined.
He rebounded to finish 69th on the money list in 2013 and 94th in 2014, but a shoulder injury limited his 2015 appearances to eight.
“It was hard to deal with,” he told Golfweek during last year’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. “There were times when I really did wonder if I would ever play again.”
Waring took advantage of a pain-free 2017 season to finish 60th on the money list, his best year as a professional. He’s on course to better that position with his maiden European win, a victory that takes him to 63rd on the European money list from 147th at the start of the week and in danger of a trip to the qualifying school. Now he has an exemption through the end of the 2020 season.
“It feels like it’s all worth it,” Waring said. “I’ve had a couple of operations along the way, and it’s nice to finally have got to this point. I’m sure that everyone back home will be absolutely thrilled for me. This is all for everyone back home as well.”
Aiken missed out on his fourth European Tour victory, but his second-place finish ensures he’ll have playing rights on next year’s European Tour. The 35-year-old began the week outside the 110 places needed to keep his card for next season but jumped to 77th with his $190,000 check. Gwk