FORGOTTEN man Oliver Wilson admits he considered quitting golf before finally emerging from the wilderness with a first European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday.
Victory cemented the 34-year-old’s place on the circuit until 2016, three years after losing his card amid a downward spiral that would eventually see the former Ryder Cup star’s world ranking plummet more than 700 places.
“I remember when I was losing my card in Wales I missed the cut by one and went back to my room and I was in tears. I wasn’t to know that wasn’t the low point and that it was going to get much worse,” Wilson said.
“I missed so many cuts on the [second tier] Challenge Tour over the last two years.
“There was a time I couldn’t break 80 and even get close to making a cut. It was really hard to take.
“There were a few conversations I had on the phone where I broke down but people around me kept me going, and the weekend later I picked myself up and was back at it. It’s hard to keep doing that.
“It’s expensive to go and play professional golf when you’re not earning anything. It’s almost the cost equivalent of going on holiday every week when you’re not earning anything back.
“It’s stressful and hard on you and your family so there were certainly times when I was questioning what I was going to be doing.”
Wilson, who held off world No1 Rory McIlroy to win at St Andrews by one stroke, puts his resurgence down to a change in technique that has given him greater trust in his game, following work with fellow Englishman and European Tour player Robert Rock.
“The biggest thing for me over the last few months is I have started to trust my own intuition and trust in my decisions,” he added.
“I don’t think I really believed I could win a tournament like that so soon after the last couple of years but the belief definitely started to come back.”
RISE FALL AND RISE
■ After playing college golf in the US, Mansfield-born Oliver Wilson turned pro in 2003 and joined the Challenge Tour the following season
■ He jumped straight to the European Tour and improved his Order of Merit position every year, finishing seventh in 2009 and making the 2008 Ryder Cup
■ Despite nine runner-up spots, a first European Tour victory continued to elude him and he lost his card in 2011
■ Wilson failed to win back his card in 2012, won just £650 prize money in the first half of 2013 and only £16,600 this year before his breakthrough triumph