Hume begins climb back to the summit, 12 months later

Hume begins climb back to the summit, 12 months later
 Jack Hume, far right, gives the thumbs up on Mount Kilimanjaro 

Jack Hume, far right, gives the thumbs up on Mount Kilimanjaro 

He's back. Exactly 363 days after shooting an 81 to miss the cut in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, Naas' Jack Hume returned the fairways in a mini-tour event in Portugal on Sunday.

The 24-year old former Boys golf prodigy, West of Ireland champion and Walker Cup winner opened the 36-hole Algarve Pro Tour's Pinheiros Altos Classic with a four-under-par 68 to share third place.

It's the first event of a three-event "package" that costs each professional €1,520. But it's also a giant step for Hume, who stepped away from the game last Christmas with "his head a mess,"

That's how his then manager described his demeanour as Christmas 2016 approached, 

"He was fully committed to working hard over the winter and playing co-sanctioned and Sunshine Tour events before getting ready for Challenge Tour," former ISM agent, Irishman Nick Mullen said during the Irish Open in July. "But he just couldn't get his head in the right place. 

"He didn't feel mentally fresh enough and while I wouldn't say he was struggling with desire, he had been so intensely invested in golf over the past few years that when it came time to get started again, he couldn't get himself mentally right. 

"He just said, 'Look, maybe the best thing I can do is take a break away from this and go at it again.' 

"So he went travelling at the end of April, did some charity work in South Africa just to ground himself a little and maybe open his eyes to how lucky he was and the opportunities he has."

At that stage, he had tentative plans was to sit down with coach Gavin Lunny and the rest of his inner circle in late July or early August to map out a plan for a return to Q-School, where he withdrew in 2016 at Second Stage after rounds of 75 and 77. 

 Jack Hume hits balls alongside Paul Dunne before his professional debut in the 2016 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland

Jack Hume hits balls alongside Paul Dunne before his professional debut in the 2016 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland

However, he remained out of touch and his inner circle was, understandably, protective.

Social media posts in July showed him atop Mt Kilimanjaro and when he decided not to enter the 2017 European Tour Q-School, it was clear that that was going to be a sabbatical year after all.

One of five Irish players on the winning Walker Cup at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2015, Hume went to the Q-School as an amateur that year but after carding a sensational final round 63 at Panoramica to make a six-man playoff but failed to get through the Final Stage,

As it happened, his Walker Cup teammate Paul Dunne did get through a Second Stage playoff that year and went on to win his card. Fast forward two years and Dunne is a European Tour winner, ranked inside the world's Top 80. The other four Irish members of that GB&I team— Gavin Moynihan, Gary Hurley, Cormac Sharvin and Hume — are battling their own battles.

While Moynihan made a huge jump this year, earning his European Tour card, Sharvin did well to keep his Challenge Tour status while Hurley's poor year means he will be relying heavily on invitations in 2018.

Hume could have turned pro with a Team Ireland grant at the end of 2015 and played some Challenge Tour events on invitations. But decided instead to remain amateur and said just over a year ago that he had no regrets.

In 2016 he made Irish golfing history alongside Stuart Grehan and Paul McBride by claiming Ireland's first ever bronze with a tie for third in the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico.

“Competing on the PGA Tour, that’s my goal. I want to play Majors,” he told the GUI website.

“I’m not really looking past that Q-School, to be honest. It’s a bit of a marathon.”

He turned professional a few days later, signing up with Chubby Chandler's ISM before making his professional debut in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, missing the 54-hole cut by just four shots.

He made one cut on the Challenge Tour before Q-School, but after that reverse, he would make just one more appearance in the co-sanctioned event at Leopard Creek before putting the clubs away.

Now he's back and a four-under 68 in Portugal doesn't just leave him just two shots behind leader Craig Farrelly with fellow Irishmen Sharvin (70) and John Ross Galbraith (75), Nial Kearns (75) and amateur Hugh Foley (78) for company, it bodes well for the future of one of the biggest talents to emerge in Irish amateur golf over the last decade.

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