My 2021 season

DP World Tour player Chris Paisley reflects on his season and looks ahead to 2022

The 2021 European Tour season has come to an end and my most prominent emotion is relief.

I started the season really well with a T7 finish in Abu Dhabi – a Rolex Series event which brought with it a lot of points. I followed that up with another T7 in Qatar and all was looking rosy. My long game wasn’t great – but my putting, short game and short iron play were world-class.

Since then, to be blunt, my game has been awful. I’ve been poor off the tee and the rest of my game has dipped. In hindsight, my efforts to improve the long game meant I didn’t spend enough time on the rest. Annoyingly, my long game seemed to get worse even though I was working so hard on it. I fell into some old habits that got particularly out of control. My putting remained solid, but the quality of the rest of my game just didn’t allow me to compete. I did have another top-10 at the Hero Open in Scotland later in the season, but other than that it was mainly missed cuts. I finally made a weekend in Madrid – however there was an additional cut after the third round which I did not make. Even when I made a cut, I still missed one!

I did manage to keep my card for next season but given my goal has been to get into the top 50 in the world, I was a million miles from that.

I’m currently taking some time away from golf to get my head straight and make a plan for the winter. I’ll be back in action in Abu Dhabi in January.

It took a little while before I even wanted to look at my clubs. This is a dream job, but it is so tough when things are not going well. It has felt like work for a while now. When you’re hitting it poorly, not only is the round itself a grind, but you end up grinding more off the course and worrying about things. That all takes its toll and I ended the season mentally drained. Everyone goes through spells like this and I know I’ll come through it stronger. After a few weeks with my family, I already feel great about my upcoming winter and season ahead. 

2022 is going to be the start of an exciting era for the European Tour, now the DP World Tour. There seemed to be some confusion about the name change, which is simply that, a name change. The tour wasn’t bought out. DP World invested a tremendous amount of money to buy the naming rights, among other things. This was crucial for the long-term health of our tour given the difficulties related to Covid and potential competition from emerging tours. The minimum prize fund for an event is now $2 million, up from $1 million. This is great news and something which has needed to happen for a while. The disparity between our biggest and smallest events was far too great. That gap is now slightly less which will help the strength of field in the smaller events. We still won’t get many of the superstars playing in them, but the fields will be stronger. From a player’s perspective, it’s great news. More money to play for, more events, and stronger fields. 

Unfortunately, the new era started off in a sobering manor. Travel bans and weather reduced the Joburg Open to just 36 holes and removed the other two events in South Africa from the schedule. This showed how fragile golf is in the current climate. I wasn’t in South Africa and I am so happy I wasn’t after hearing some of the problems the players, caddies and staff had getting home.

I hope everyone has a great Christmas and New Year. I’ll be back better and stronger after a few months of family time and hard graft.