Nick Dougherty is learning to fly – both at the controls of an aeroplane and in the heady heights of professional golf.
The 19-year-old from Chorley, in Lancashire, who is aiming to get his pilot’s licence soon, has also been taken under the wing of Nick Faldo, so to speak.
And after his superb second place in the Qatar Masters, he has set a course for the very top after securing his playing privileges on the European Tour for the next two years.
Dougherty, 20 in May, has followed in the slipstream of Justin Rose after an outstanding amateur career, in which he won Faldo Junior Series three times on the trot, from the age of 15, the English and World Boys titles, the UK Under 20 and Australian Amateur championships.
Now he wants to soar to the next level as a professional winner, following his superb closing 69 for a share of second place, behind Adam Scott in the Doha desert on Sunday.
"While this year is a learning experience, I’m not going to go out there and think that," he says.
"That’s not the right attitude for me – purely because I’ve had so much experience already on Tour. I believe you can actually justify not playing to your potential by saying ‘well it’s a learning experience.’ It’s an easy way out and I think I’d have used it in the past." "If I screw up, I’m going to think ‘What did I do wrong?’ not ‘Well I’m not used to being in that situation’ - because I am."
Sounds like a positive attitude that has been pummeled into him by his dad Roger and his mentor Faldo, who will have been on the ‘phone already today from Florida, when he heard of young Nick’s Qatar performance.
Faldo believes his protégé has got both the talent and the will to become a champion as a pro, even at his tender age.
"Maturity is his big strength. I remember when he stood up in front of me and the Duke of York, and made a speech, aged 15. Not too many kids can do that. I like him. He’s a good kid, says the six-times major champion.
"I think he’s going to develop well because his game will mature and he will get the experience. I’ll help him out to pace himself, then it’s down to him to go out and get on with it."
Dougherty admits he ‘hated’ his father, like most young teenagers, because he wanted him to practise rather than see his mates.
"Then I got to the stage where I thought ‘he’s right, he knows what he’s doing.’"
Dougherty also pays tribute to his coach Pete Cowen, and fitness intructor Ron Cuthbert, a martial arts champion, who is also developing his sound mental approach.
"Peter teaches by sensation, showing me different ways of achieving the same thing and Ron has instilled into me focus and concentration. He knows which buttons to press."
Having completed his pre-flight checks, Dougherty is now ready to embark on a solo career which could see him reach the dizzy heights of his mentor while keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
Dougherty's flying high