20 August 2019

Danny’s Professional World

Danny has a tough task ahead if he’s to achieve his highest goal, attending the 2020 Olympics. To do so, he must climb about 600 places in the world rankings, and while that is no easy feat, anything is possible and he still has time on his side. 

While trying to improve his world ranking, the process of reaching his highest goal yet has become very important to Danny. By learning the step-by-step process to success, Danny has transformed his professional vision to secure better results. 

First off, how do you feel looking back on your performance as a pro over the past four years?
When I started to turn pro, I said that if after three to five years I don't make a living off golf then I have to look for other options for a career. However, in the four years of my pro career, I have seen a lot of progress, especially over the past two years. This progress cannot be separated from my change of swing coach and caddie who are more experienced.

Who is your coach?
I’ve had coaching at The Leadbetter Golf Academy since 2011 and have seen great progress with them. Stephen Moriarty is my coach, we made improvements to my technique before the season started and now we work together to maintain these throughout the competitive months. 

What do you think of your performance this season?
In the last three tournaments (OB Golf Invitational, Singha Laguna Phuket Open, and PGM ADT Championship @ Tiara Melaka) I was able to score under-par for four days in a row. That's a major achievement. I set a target of making an under-par score in every tournament that I attend, besides also targeting for Top 5 finishes. Now, I know what must be improved to be able to play more consistently and have the opportunity to win OWGR points in each tournament.

How do you maintain your game?
This past year,  with the help of Teddy-Jubilant Arda, I have recorded all my statistics. From these statistics, I still need to improve my putting and short game. These two things are important to maintain momentum. I play well [in long game], but miss the green. It will kill all momentum. I think my game is good, but the improvement is also good.

So, in every match, there must always be an improvement?
There must be an improvement. The important thing is to stay consistent. My goal for every tournament is to play to 70. If we continue to improve, it means our direction is right. If the statistics decline from last year, we have to think about what should be done so that the direction is better.

For the last four years, have you made a living from your pro career?
In 2017-2018 I was able to reach breakeven. In 2019, I have a little more. So far, I have tried to arrange my travel by a budget so I don’t spend a lot of money so that there is something I can save.

This year, you have only missed the cut three times in 11 starts, which is less than last year’s six missed cuts in your first 11 appearances. What do you think about that?
Many people are mistaken, focusing on making the cut they always say: “Good luck, hopefully, you make the cut!” For me, playing in a tournament is not just about making the cut. If you just make the cut, how do you make a living? You should be in the Top 10 - Top 5 is better. As I recall, during my first season as a pro, I managed to make more cuts, however, I finished at the bottom of the leaderboard. That's not good either because I got nothing. Therefore, I don't think about the cutline anymore. We only set a goal for how to get World Ranking Points in each tournament.

To maintain your game throughout an event, what do you do?
I have to manage my expectations. The only expectation that I have is playing under-par and also staying patient.

Staying patient?
I often make bogeys or make bad shots on one or two holes. This sometimes makes me upset or angry and that affects the next hole. If I just play relaxed, I can bounce back because I know my game is pretty good. So, what's important in my game is mental. I must be more focused and also play patiently.

What can you tell us about life on this tour?
Sometimes people say it must be fun: playing golf and traveling everywhere. However, the thing they don’t know is that we could travel for three to four weeks. Staying at a hotel, we don't cook our own food, we don't have time to go anywhere, only the hotel and the golf course. We go out of the hotel just to eat, but that's also not every day. So, we are just focused on playing golf, not traveling. It’s nice, but tiring too. From this routine, I have begun to understand that after playing for three to four weeks, I have to rest for a week to restore my stamina. Because if you're tired, what's the point in competing?

We know you have a big goal of reaching the Olympics. What do you think are your chances of participating in 2020?
I think it's still open. We just need a big tournament to achieve it, at least two ADT wins, or one Asian Tour title. Then, I have to be in the Top 10s that give the World Ranking points several times. To get a chance in the 2020 Olympics we must be in the Top 250-300. The last country that has a slot for the Olympics should have a ranking in the Top 300. So, we need to get 20 points to be able to reach that rank.

How do you earn those 20 points?
High and low points are based on the tournament. If I can be in the Top 10 in every Asian Tour tournament, that's good. In ADT events, we must be at least in the Top 6 every tournament. On the Asian Tour, it is awarded for the positions of 15-20 usually. The field that plays in the tournament also affects it. If there is a Top 50 player who plays in the tournament, the field gets heavier and the points will be higher.

So, the Olympics is your main focus at this time?
Yes, the Olympics will pave the way for other things. If I can play in the Olympics, I may have the chance to get the Asian Tour or the European Tour card. Many sponsors will come.

You play on the Asian Tour and the Asian Development Tour. How are these two tour fields?
The field on the Asian Tour is definitely heavier. But, this season's ADT field is already quite heavy. Four to six years ago, the cutline was over-par, but now it's under-par. The players are better and more competitive.

You travel a lot to countries in Asia. Is there anything interesting you noted about traveling to these countries?
Maybe there is something interesting in Japan… we have to wear a suit if we go to the golf course there. Nothing is casual. From the hotel to the course, they ask us to dress formally.

You were disqualified in the Queen's Cup 2018 Hosted by Jaidee Foundation last year. What happened?
I forgot to sign the scorecard. A small mistake but the impact was very big. I was actually very confused about what happened. I finished playing and submitted my scorecard. When I went to order food, the tournament director approached me. "We have a big problem," he said. I thought he was joking but he turned out to be serious. “What’s wrong?” “You forgot the signature.” I was stunned. Forgot the signature? I really did not know. I usually sign immediately, that's the first thing I do. So, I returned to the scoring room. Right, I hadn't signed yet. I was disqualified. It happened in the final round. I was in position 35. I think it's better to withdraw on the second day.

How did you feel about that?
I was very angry with myself. I never forget the signature. I was always worried about miswriting the score. Since that incident, I am even more careful and everyone always reminds me, “Don't forget to sign the scorecard!”

What insight would you share with amateurs who want to become professional players?
I suggest to study in the United States and play college golf. College golf is a difficult competition. We play from September to November and February to April. It’s not only the competition that’s tough, we also face cold weather conditions and the strongest winds. We carry our own bags, play 36 holes and play 11 hours without stopping.  So, from hole to hole while walking, we eat our lunch. It's hard because we try to keep focused on the game. That's my experience; learning a lot from college golf. 

Anything you would add to that?
You are not only competing with other school players, but also with teammates to get the number one position in each school. You’ve got to go for it with college golf. The problem is that every school only takes five students to play in the event team. Play as much as possible to be ready when you turn professional. Despite there being a big difference between playing college golf and professional golf, college golf really forms your mentality and mind.

Do you enjoy your professional career?
In any career, there are good times and there are bad times. In golf, there may be more bad times and good times. I mean, in the tournaments every week, we are dealing with results over four days. The first round result is good, the second and the third are bad, and the fourth is good. Golf is a sport in which we have to manage our expectation. The thing is, we sometimes have a bad week. So, patience and expectation must be managed. Playing as a professional is a totally different experience [than as an amateur]. We play for making money. This is our career. If we don't play well, we don't get money. If you don't get money, you eventually can't play anymore because you can't pay for the expenses.

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