Golf365 took the chance this week to catch up with European Tour ace Graeme Storm.
Graeme Bailey catches up with European Tour ace Graeme Storm
Graeme Storm has just been confirmed as the touring professional of esteemed new North East golf resort, Rockliffe Hall.
The Teessider is now coming back to full fitness after overcoming a shoulder injury which has dogged his 2010 so far.
But Graeme explains his link-up with Rockliffe is already reaping benefits.
“People have asked me why with Rockliffe? But you only have to look around and see the facilities, and that was a huge part in me coming here,” he explained to Golf365.com.
“And the chance to come here get physio and use the gym and equipment has been great.
“This year has been the worst start to a season I have experienced since I joined the tour, without a doubt.
“I went out to Asia for the start of the season but that was the wrong thing for me, more in terms of my mental state than physically.
“Now I have got myself back to where I want to be and I am ready to go.
“But my fitness is still not there, it is like they say with footballers – you need match fitness and that is the same with golfers, you need to be tournament ready.
“Now I am hoping to get back and build things up over the coming month, ahead of the summer, and the big tournaments that lie ahead.”
Graeme qualified for the 2009 Open in spectacular fashion with a course record 62 at Sunningdale in final qualifying and, with St Andrews on the horizon, he again has qualification in his sights.
“I obviously love links golf as it was what I was brought up on and last year I enjoyed playing at Sunningdale, and hopefully there will be a repeat of that this year,” he continued.
But he admits that qualifying for the Race to Dubai was his primary goal.
He has finished in the top-50 for the last three years and wants make sure he secures his place on the Tour.
“Staying on the European tour is obviously the first thing I need to do, I don’t have any exemptions this year – as I didn’t last year, so obviously that is my main goal,” he said.
“I know I am capable as I have proved last year and the Race to Dubai is where you have to be.
“Now I have to get ready for the summer and I am looking to get at least one tournament win under my belt.”
As we are talking, the build-up to the Masters is dominating the golfing media with Tiger Woods’ participation the main talking point.
And Storm goes against the general consensus by tipping the world number one to make a big impact at Augusta.
“I think he will have a very big say in what goes on this week,” he declared.
“The way I see it, I think he is arguably under the least amount of pressure he has ever been. Nobody is expecting him to do anything, but he has everything and cannot see him being ruled out of contention.
“I have never actually played with Tiger, but have been in groups directly behind and in front, and it is a total circus around him and perhaps that will not be the case this week.”
Storm himself competed in the Masters in 2000 and he admits he would love to be there.
“For me it is not a case of wishing I was there, but of course I would like to be involved,” he said.
“It is a small field and although the first Major, it is an invitational and you need to be in the world’s top-50 and that is my aim.
“I enjoyed it when I was there and would like to play there again.”
Another major event this year is the Ryder Cup and, again, Storm is continually asked about his ambitions, but he insists that he is not setting himself that goal.
“The Ryder Cup is something all golfers want to play in, I am no different, but if it is happens it happens – if I do what I want to do on tour then that will look after itself.
“And the fact that it is Britain at Celtic Manor means a lot to the British lads. I think if the guys can play there a bit, maybe include a Welsh Open in their schedule, then I don’t see why they cannot exact revenge.”
Storm feels Colin Montgomerie will lead Europe to victory over USA when they meet in Wales later this year.
“I know Colin having played with him at the Seve Trophy and he knows the Ryder Cup inside out, and I don’t think there is a better man for the job.”
The Ryder Cup is also already being whispered about in the corridors of Rockliffe Hall and Storm feels his new club has all the credentials to host the event in years to come.
“As I have said before, I do not see why that Rockliffe Hall cannot host the Ryder Cup, in 20-years or so,” he added.
“You see Celtic Manor and Gleneagles, they have poured vast amounts of money into getting it and have wonderful facilities, but I still don’t see them being as good as anything we have on offer here.
“At Celtic Manor, Terry Matthews has been brilliant providing the funding and investing what was needed into getting the tournament, whilst Gleneagles obviously has history – but neither gets great weather and it is just a matter of pushing themselves forward.
“Obviously Rockliffe would have to decide whether they want the event as we all know it takes vast amounts of money to get it.
“But in my time here already I can see they have what it takes, the course will develop well in four to five years with the trees growing up and it is one of the longest courses in the world, so you can make lots of different versions with varying tee positions and I just think it is first-class.
“Look at the academy and the putting and chipping is the best I have ever used, so everything is here.”
Storm, being a proud North Eastener, is also hoping Rockliffe’s presence will help lift the region as a golfing powerhouse.
“I think the North East as a whole is getting there. You had Slaley, Wynyard and now Rockliffe – which is head and shoulders above anything else we have seen.
“I was brought up here in Hartlepool playing there and we have courses like Seaton Carew, we have the courses and I just hope me being here at Rockliffe Hall will also help the region as a whole.”
Graeme Storm is Rockliffe Hall’s new touring professional – please click here for more details about the golf and hotel resort
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