Hopkins to turn pro after Sunshine Tour success; credits Westner with transformation

Hopkins to turn pro after Sunshine Tour success; credits Westner with transformation
 Jeff Hopkins with Wayne Westner following his IGT Pro Tour win in February

Jeff Hopkins with Wayne Westner following his IGT Pro Tour win in February

Jeff Hopkins plans to turn professional as soon as possible following his graduation from the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School and his great partnership with former tour player Wayne Westner.

The Skerries talent, who helped Royal Dublin win the AIG Barton Shield this season and played a big role in Leinster's victory in the Interprovincial Matches at Rosapenna, hopes to be playing for pay on the South African circuit in January.

Hopkins was added to the GUI's senior panel recently but following his impressive sixth place finish in the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School on Saturday, his amateur days are over.

"I've been working really hard with Wayne Westner, focusing on mental techniques and his new swing machine which has showed me exactly what I am trying to do with the club," Hopkins reported from South Africa.

"I had him on the bag all week which was great he kept me patient and focused and I am now starting to see results. I intend to turn pro shortly and start in January."

Hopkins' sixth place finish at the Qualifying School will get him into all regular 2016 Sunshine Tour events and allow him to try and qualify for all the co-sanctioned European tour events such as the the BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni from January 7 or the following week's Joburg Open.

"I'Il play a full season in SA and then head back to Europe at the end of next year," added the 23-year old, whose game has been transformed by former tour star Westner. 

Hopkins travelled to South Africa back in January and spent seven weeks working with Westner at the Wayne Westner Golf College, winning an 18-hole event on the IGT Pro Tour in February.

He returned to South Africa in October to prepare for Q-School and had two top 10s in seven events on the IGT Pro Tour, a developmental tour that has been in existence for six years and appears to be making a difference to players looking to make the step up.

Johannesburg native Westner turned pro in 1983, winning the SA Open in 1988 and 1991, the Dubai Desert Classic in 1993 and the 1996 World Cup in a record-breaking partnership with Ernie Els . 

He won 14 tournaments through his career and represented South Africa seven times before his career was cut short by injury.

He remained focused on golf and set up a golf school in Celbridge in Ireland, that accumulated 1100 students.

A student of the swing for more than 25 years, he has studied and implemented all the top mental techniques and now teaches at the beautiful Selborne Estate.

The Sunshine Tour, which is one of the world's six main tours, currently co-sanctions six tournaments with the European Tour: the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the Africa Open, The Alfred Dunhill Championship, the Joburg Open, the Tshwane Open and the South African Open, which is the second oldest championship in golf.

The Sunshine Tour will also co-sanction the €1m AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open with the Asian Tour and the European Tour the week before the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in May 2016, 

The tour currently runs through all twelve months of the year.