The world awaits for globetrotting ‘Tiger’

Robin ‘Tiger’ Williams is already a golfing globetrotter with almost as many air miles as a trans-Atlantic pilot.

Just like Tiger Woods, the sporting icon who inspired his middle name, the 18-year-old is intent on making his mark on planet golf.

So far, the young Englishman’s journey in life has taken him on an unusual path from South Africa’s Cape to the North Wales coast. From the Granite City of Aberdeen to America’s Sunshine State.

Born in Stellenbosch, Williams moved to Prestatyn as a baby. By the age of eight, he’d decided he wanted to become a golfer. Having moved to Scotland’s north-east coast and aged just 11, Williams left his family home for school in Florida as he chased his dream.

Now based back in England and a key member of the men’s squad, Williams still believes the world is still his oyster.

And despite being saddled with high levels of expectation as the ‘new Tiger’ ever since he first picked up a golf club, the bright teenager is happy to take all the hype in his stride.

“It helps me and motivates me. I am working to prove wrong those people who doubt me,” admitted Williams during a break from coaching with his England colleagues

“I don’t find it pressurised. It doesn’t bring me down. In fact, it lifts me up to work harder than before.

“As I see it, I share a middle name and a love of golf with Tiger. He has a different background, ethnicity, religion, parents.

“If I can mimic what he’s done that’s unbelievable, but it’s just a name even if he was the reason I got into golf.”

So what about his unique journey to the point where he’s rated as one of the country’s most promising amateur talents?

“It’s been a good grounding for me as I look ahead to being a pro,” added Williams.

“It can be difficult, but I’m used to it now playing eight, nine weeks in a row and flying from one side of the world to the other, playing a practice round and then going again.

“My air miles are good. I’ve racked up a lot of them.

“Moving to America aged 11 was a big thing. Learning to do your own washing and shopping at the age of 11 is unusual!

“At that age you normally rely on your parents doing that for you.

“It taught me time management skills to make sure that I had enough time for everything – school, golf, gym.

“I don’t feel as if I missed out on a childhood because I was doing something I loved every day.”

Williams’ passport can take a bit of a breather for the moment although he will combine a winter training programme in England with a couple of visits to Quinta do Lago in Portugal as part of the England set-up.

He does so with a spring in his step.

Last month, Williams became only the third amateur to win on the MENA Tour when he claimed victory in an event in Jordan – closing out his victory by carding five consecutive birdies to win by eight shots.

That triumph, as well as a visit to stage two of European Tour school,  has given Williams a glimpse of the standards he needs to hit in the months and years ahead.

“I hadn’t enjoyed that good a 2019 leading up to Q School. But then I made it to stage two and went over to play on the MENA Tour,” he added.

“I wanted to suss out if I could compete with pros on that tour who are used to the weather and conditions.

“It was a real confidence-booster knowing that I could do it.”

For now, Williams’ mind is set on amateur events with England – the European Championships and Home Internationals the first goals for 2020.

“England Golf has been a big part of my development starting out with regional squads and then going to the boys’ team and now the men’s side,” confirmed Williams

“It’s an individual sport and you don’t really get the chance to be in a team environment all that often. When you do then it’s fun and you make great friendships with lots of guys.”

In 2017, Williams teed it up in the British Masters at Close House and last year was part of the Junior Ryder Cup squad at Le Golf National in Versailles.

Rubbing shoulders with superstars of the game has just whetted his appetite for the future.

“I did meet Tiger in France and that was good,” said the teenager with a broad smile.

“I’ve looked up to these guys for so long watching them on TV and YouTube – Tiger, Rory, Koepka, Dustin, Stenson.

“Look at Tommy Fleetwood who has been through England Golf development stages and reached the top level.

“It shows us that it can be done.

“Tiger is my hero – for what he’s done for the sport and how he changed the game.

“He’s the reason I play – at the age of eight I was trying to mimic him.”

And does the mimicry stem to celebrations as well as the swing?

“Yeah, of course you practise the fist-pump  – everyone does it,” joked Williams who hopes to have a few celebrations of his own to showcase in 2020.

 

Photography: Leaderboard