Picton golfer eyes off professional career

FOCUSED: Picton's Justin Warren tees off during a professional competition for the Little Rock Trojans. Picture: Nelson Chenault
FOCUSED: Picton's Justin Warren tees off during a professional competition for the Little Rock Trojans. Picture: Nelson Chenault

Picton's Justin Warren was just 19 when he moved halfway around the world to pursue his golfing dream.

Warren grabbed his clubs and hopped on a plane to America to begin a prestigious golfing scholarship at a college in Arizona.

Four years later, Warren's leap of faith is paying off.

Warren, 23, returns to Wollondilly next week.

He will waste no time looking to impress when he gets back on our shores.

Warren has already qualified to compete on the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) tour of Australasia.

"I competed in the PGA qualifying school last December," Warren said.

"I won the first stage and finished sixth [overall].

"I have also paid my membership fees with the PGA.

I'm getting straight into professional golf when I get home."

Warren will compete in his first PGA tour round in the coming months, possibly as early as June.

He said there were a couple of Australasian tournaments that he was particularly excited about.

"I should play my first Australian Open at the Australian Golf Club [in Kensington] in December," he said.

"I am also eyeing off the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast, which is going to be a lot of fun.

"It's the one I'm most certainly looking forward to. I can't wait to begin my professional career."

Warren started his American college journey at the South Mountain Community College, before switching to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2017.

He has represented Little Rock in the country's top level college golf league.

Warren said it had been a "culture shock" to get used to the US college lifestyle.

"When I first moved over, it wasn't something that I was prepared for," he said.

"I thought it was going to be all about golf - but it was the opposite.

"It was a lot of school first, then golf."

Justin Warren holds his pose after hitting long down the fairway.

Justin Warren holds his pose after hitting long down the fairway.

Warren said he was excited to return to Picton and spend time with his loved ones.

"I've only been home during the college's major holidays over the past four years," he said.

"Every time I come home, I've been back long enough to get comfortable, but then I have to turn around and leave again.

"I'm looking forward to being home on a more permanent basis.

"Even though I'll still be travelling a lot, it's going to be great knowing that I'm around family and friends, and not having to FaceTime them from the other side of the world."

However, Warren said he had a long-term dream of returning to America.

"My goal is to get back to the US and play on their PGA tour against the best players in the world," he said.

"Through the Australasia tour, there are some good opportunities to make my way over to Europe and Asia.

"They both present my best chance to make my way back to the US."

Warren said he had simple advice for anyone looking to pursue a professional golf career.

"Work hard in everything that you do," he said.

"Work hard on the golf course, work hard in the classroom and work hard at home.

"Good things come to those who earn it."