On the 2010 European Tour Daniel Gaunt finished above hot favourite Tiger Woods to claim a top 3 finish in The Aussie Masters, a feat he’d already achieved the season before in The Open Championship at Turnberry.
These are high points but life on tour can be a lonely existence and one that eventually led to Dan packing up the game in 2017. Now back playing competitive golf again we caught up with the charismatic Australian at Worplesdon Golf Club to talk about the last 10 years and his hopes for the future.
When did you first get into playing professional tournament golf?
After coming through qualifying school in 2003 I graduated to the main European Tour. This was my first experience of major tour golf and I struggled to find my feet, it was a steep learning curve but every event gave me the confidence that I could compete at this level.
There were highs and lows the next few years but I struggled to find the consistency to establish myself on the European Tour. In 2009 after working in pro shops and playing the Europro Tour I was close to quitting, but I then proceeded to qualify for the Open Championship.
I played with Tom Watson and John Daly in practice and then Rory in the third round. On day two I recorded the lowest score of the day to make the cut. All great experiences gave me renewed confidence with my golf.
Was the Open Championship the biggest highlight of your career to date?
I would say beating Tiger in Australia remains the biggest highlight because I managed to have a little chat with him before he teed off in the last round, as one of my idols this was amazing. To tap in on the last knowing my name was just above his put a huge smile on my face.
With renewed confidence from the 2009 season how did you approach the next phase of your career?
Starting back on the TP tour I won my first event, headed to the Europro Tour and won the first event. Which got me an invite to the Challenge Tour, where again I won the first event, The English Challenge! Winning was becoming a habit and I gained full playing rights in Europe from finishing 7th in the rankings.
From 2010 to 2017 I was on European Tour and filled in with Challenge Tour events when my ranking didn’t get me a start. In this period I won two Challenge Tour events and enjoyed some top finishes on the main tour.
Winning events and playing the game you love for a living, what could go wrong?
Looking back this was the highpoint of my career as the strain of being away from my family and the stress of playing for my living took its toll. I felt down being away from my loved ones, anxious whether my performance on the golf course would pay the bills and I simply lost my enjoyment for playing the game.
It’s such a lonely place out on the tour and it was hard to speak to anyone about it. I suffered a lot especially as I was away from my family.
After a few years off I rediscovered my love for the game but the anxiety remained, particularly in my short game. As an extremely hard worker I put in countless hours in to solve these issues and find the calmness to play my natural game.
So progress with the mental side of the game is key?
Yes of course and in Spring 2020 a friend recommended CDB, a new WADA approved product which seemed an ideal solution to my issues. Having tried 2 or 3 products I found a golf specific CBD company producing formulas to specifically deal with golfing issues, from anxiety through to fatigue, ageing and even conditions like the yips.
We met in the Summer and they have worked with me to find an oil combination which has pretty much eradicated my nerves and anxiety. It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous under pressure and these feelings remain when in contention but I no longer suffer the unexplained anxiety on the way to the golf course or during my rounds.
In return for the help they’ve given me I offered my support in an advisory role to help them develop products for elite players, both serious amateurs and professionals. Using their chemistry expertise and my golfing experience it’s an exciting area of research to work in.
How is CBD different to other supplements taken by Golfers
Most supplements are for one purpose, this can be hydration, a nutritional or energy boost and these do help to keep you focused. The difference with CBD is the range of benefits that result from the various beneficial compounds.
Having been involved in several weeks of testing I’ve genuinely not seen anything this exciting for golfers. I would describe this supplement as providing the perfect state of mind to play your best golf by keeping your mood and responses positive throughout the round.
Top players understand the fine margins between success and failure. If we can improve a players’ score by 1 – 2 shots per round through preparation, approach and response to events the overall impact can be the difference between success and failure.
From day one of use I have felt more relaxed and focused on the golf course. My preparation is better with improved sleep patterns and I am free of anxiety as I travel to the golf course. When I get out there my short game jitters have gone and I’m able to simply concentrate on the task at hand.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
For now I’m playing some of my best golf again. I hold the record for all time wins on the TP Tour with 13 to date, I’m well placed on the Clutch Pro Tour order of merit, and pushing hard for a place at Q School.
The goal now is to get back playing on the main European Tour. I still believe in myself and that I can still win at the highest level. Now I’m free from the anxiety it’s a matter of putting in the hard graft to get back to my best.
The work with the CBD company will continue regardless of where my golf takes me. The guy’s enthusiasm for this new area of research is infectious and anybody looking to help players enjoy their golf more will continue to get my full support.
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