No stopping Nixon in lockdown

LOCKDOWN failed to completely bunker former European Tour golf professional Matthew Nixon.

The 31-year-old, who remains heavily involved at Ashton where he learned to play the game, ensured he was as prepared as possible for the enforced back.

Nixon, who had been due to compete on the second-tier European Challenger Tour in 2021, explained: “I was very keen to keep up to date about coronavirus before lockdown was imposed.

“I looked what was happening in other countries and knew it was coming our way.”

Nixon bought a driving net for his back garden, turf from B&Q and a putting mat.

“I was able to practise two hours every day, everything from driving to chipping into a bucket to putting. It was a bit boring, but it did the job,” he continued.

Nixon added it was strange that golf courses were out of bounds for almost two months as he had to adjust to a new way of life.

He said: “It was strange at first not getting out the suitcase every few days which usually happens during the season.

“But everyone has adapted to what has become the new normal. Now it will be abnormal to go away.”

Nixon, now living at Sandiway, Cheshire, added the enforced break has proved beneficial as it has enabled him to re-evaluate his life.

He explained: “To have that long off was strange, but it gave me time to look at myself and ask whether I could do things better.

“I was something new in life and to have that chance to see where I could improve my game and time management.

“I am sure it will help me to become a better player in the long run. It was making the best of a bad situation.”

Nixon is waiting for the resumption of the European Challenger Tour – two events have provisionally been pencilled in for Austria.

And in early June he returned to competitive action in a one-day event at Vale Royal Abbey, Northwich.

Even before Covid-19 struck, Nixon admitted it had been a challenging period having failed to secure a place at the European Tour’s qualifying school for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

It was especially disappointing as 2018 had been a successful year as he finished 13th at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, tied for 18th at the BMW International Open, was ninth at the Porche European Open and eighth at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters.

“I was disappointed how things had gone at the end of last year and, after nine years of constant golf I was sick of it and needed time to get away to reassess my life,” he said.

Nixon spent almost two months work for girlfriend Rachel’s father who was a business cleaning new-build houses, his first experience of work life outside golf.

“I was scrapping mortar off windows and carrying out other cleaning work. It provided a wake-up call and made me realise golf was not that bad after all,” he said.

It is likely to be frustrating for some time with tour school cancelled later this year so it is highly unlikely Nixon will be on the European Tour in 2021.

He explained: “As there is no qualifying school, there will be no graduation or relegation from the European Tour.

“This year is a write off and it is not great for me to get back on to the European Tour.

“The only way would be if I won quite a few events on the European Challenger Tour they could make an exception and give me a card, but that is highly unlikely.”

Looking ahead, Nixon believes he can again become a force in the game, citing Lee Westwood who won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, a European Tour event, earlier this year aged 47.

He said: “You find people coming into professional golf are getting younger. If I play well, I still feel I can compete.

“Sometimes you feel a million miles away but then a few good weeks and it can completely change your life.”

• Nixon will be back at Ashton Golf Club this weekend (June 27-28) to compete in the competition that bears his name, the Matthew Nixon Trophy.

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