Scotland speaks about roller-coaster career

Once dubbed the next Tiger Woods but now struggles to make ends meet

Ed Greenland's picture
Fri, 25 Oct 2013
Scotland speaks about roller-coaster career

ZANE SCOTLAND, remember him? The 31-year-old Englishman speaks of his struggles since being the nation's golfing wonder kid.

Although Scotland only finished t-38th at this week's Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open on Saadiyat Island he had previously won four of the first six competitions on the Mena Tour (Middle East, North Africa) this year.

At the tender age of 16 he qualified for the 1999 Open Championship, becoming the youngest this century, but has since only played in one other major when he contended for the Claret Jug in 2010.

"There is a lot of pressure at this level. Money is easy to come by if you are on the main tour. But once you drop out of that, money is no longer easy to come by. You have to play well just to break even. You have to get to a different level just to earn a little bit, to have a normal living," he told The Independent.

"I have won four out of the first six events. That's great, but what if you don't win? The guy who comes second, or a guy who has been up there pretty much every week without winning, he has earned about $15k to $17k. Ok that's nice, but it's cost him a few thousand to be here. It's not a real job is it?"

At 14, Scotland won the "Search for Tiger" competition, a nationwide scheme to find Britain's next big thing but after sustaining a neck injury during a car crash in 2003 the start of his professional career took a step back.

It took the Englishman another four years to finally get his European Tour card at a time when a fresh-faced Rory McIlroy also started his career.

A year later, however, he missed out on retaining his card by £50,000 and his long road back to the main Tour had begun.

"Someone said that golf is a great game – until you miss three putts in a row. There is pressure at the top, of course, but there is pressure, too, when you are standing over a putt thinking: 'If I don't make this I don't play next week'. And that is without kids and a family," he said.

"At the age of 14 it never entered my mind that I wouldn't be a professional golfer. Last two or three years at school were a complete waste of time because I thought I would be playing golf for the rest of my life. I had a car crash, had an injury and then you realise it is not quite as bolted on as you think.

"It doesn't matter what level you are at, if you have a good round it is exactly the same feeling, the same buzz winning these events. I play golf to get that feeling. It keeps me alive. Anything else is treading water.

"I don't think about how much I have earned. All I think about is do I have enough to play next week. When I have had bad times, my dad has given me a couple of grand here and there. When I had my card I tried to save all the money I could, putting it into a house, which was probably the best decision I ever made.

"That is a big pressure off, but I'm not building a pension pot. It's about putting enough away in the good weeks to make sure you can keep going when you are not winning. You still have to pay bills."