Jimmy Mullen, one of the stars of last year’s GB&I Walker Cup winning team, reflects on his amateur career and life after turning pro
How was the experience of playing The Open Championship at Muirfield as an amateur in 2013?
The biggest thing was mixing with the players and learning what it’s like to play in front of big crowds. I was so focused on playing well that I don’t think I enjoyed it that much. It was all a bit of a blur. Looking back I wish I’d enjoyed it a bit more rather than being so hard on myself.
The Walker Cup last year was another huge moment for you…
That was probably my favourite and best golfing achievement so far. It’s completely different being part of a team. There were so many people to enjoy it with. We were more of a team than the Americans, I think. They have their college system, whereas we’ve been playing together since we were 16.
You turned pro straight afterwards. Was that always the plan?
Yeah, I always wanted to play in the Walker Cup because it gives you such a good stepping stone. It’s the amateur event that’s televised so if you want to get yourself known you have to play that. I think the Walker Cup sets you up really well for turning pro.
You led your first pro event, the Alfred Dunhill Links, after two rounds. How did that feel?
My main thoughts were that I didn’t have any sponsorship back then so I was trying to make as much as I could to support me through this year! I knew I had to play the hardest course last so I just tried to stay as close to the top as I could. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. But if you had offered me 30th place in my first pro event at one of the biggest tournaments on the European Tour, I wouldn’t even have teed it up on Thursday, I would have taken it!
You missed out at European Tour Q-School at the end of last year. How was that experience?
It was pretty tough. I had the high of the Walker Cup and then played great in the second qualifying stage, winning by a few shots, so it was a really disappointing end to a great year. I’ve got a year now to learn about pro life on the Challenge Tour.
How is the camaraderie on the Challenge Tour?
There are six or seven players I’ve grown up with playing Challenge Tour this year so we’ll stick together. Paul Dunne was the only one who got his card from the Walker Cup. It almost feels like we’re still playing amateur golf with so many of us! This year there are 28 tournaments in 21 countries. I’m going to do a lot of my travelling with Ashley Chesters, who is a good friend.
Will you be playing in any events on other tours this year?
I’m going to concentrate 100 per cent on the Challenge Tour and try to finish in the top 15 [on the Road to Oman] to get my card. I’ve talked to a few people from last year who mixed between getting invites on the European Tour and playing the Challenge Tour and their advice was to concentrate on one. If you get caught between the two you may end up with nothing.
– Jimmy was speaking at Heythrop Park, which hosts the European Challenge Tour’s Bridgestone Challenge