Shropshire’s Ashley Chesters is hoping a knee operation will bring around a change in his fortunes on the European Tour – and lead to a maiden victory on his return to the course next year.
The golfer from Hawkstone Park in Shrewsbury turned professional five years, and has floated around the top ten in a handful of tournaments since 2015.
However he’s had a tough 18 months, suffering a dip in form that has coincided with an injury problem to his left knee.
Chester doesn’t know of the two are linked, but he has gone under the knife and will return to the European Tour in the New Year hoping to challenge at the top of the leaderboard.
He explained: “I haven’t been playing very well for the last 18 months or so really.
“It’s a good time to have he operation and get things sorted to come back next year.
“I’m not 100 per cent sure what it was, it wasn’t troubling my swing but I was having trouble the more I walked and I couldn’t get down to read a putt.
“I wasn’t in pain during my swing, but I don’t know if psychologically it was causing me any issues.
“But I just want to get through this now, it was a good time to have he operation so hopefully I’ll be back playing in the New Year.”
Chesters turned professional in 2015, after success with the national team and winning the European Amateur Championships.
Now he has his eyes on being in with a shout of his maiden tour victory when he returns to the course next year.
“The maiden victory is what I would be aiming for,” said the Shrewsbury golfer.
“I’ve had about six top tens but not really had a major chance to win on the Sunday going into the back nine.
“So that’s what I would like to do, going into the back nine with a chance to win to see how see how I would handle the situation.
“It hasn’t happened probably since about 2014, so I’d just like to be up there on that Sunday, because I was usually quite good at handling it when I was up there.”
After turning professional in 2015 Chesters suffered a bit of a disaster first year with limited starts and a reoccurring injury.
Following that he pushed on and never looked back, establishing himself as part of the tour.
And he’s reflected on the time before his professional days, when he first realised he had a chance to make it on the big stage.
He added: “I was in the England team from about 14 or 15, and then out of nowhere I won the European Amateur and I’ve never looked back from there.
“That was when I thought I had a chance of doing something with this.
“The next two Opens I missed the cut but I was sitting around 20th after day one, and to even be 20th after one round in that field, I again thought I can do something with this.
“It’s interesting because there are great amateurs who go missing in the professional game.”
Chesters is hoping to return in a few months time and go in search of that first victory.
But he’s explained how difficult it is to bridge the gap to the world’s top players, who perform consistently on a weekly basis.
“The gap over a four day tournament is quite big,” explained Chesters.
“Anyone can beat anyone over one round, but the players in the top ten are the ones who do it all week over four rounds.
“But when you look at the leaderboard now, it isn’t often anyone on there isn’t a big hitter.
“In the top 50 you can’t imagine there are many short hitters in there, and I’m one of the short hitters.”
The subject of big hitting has been a hot topic in recent months, with the success of Bryson Dechambeau and the longer lengths players are striking the ball.
Some have talked about rule and equipment changes, but Chesters insists it will get to a point where the big boys can’t hit any further and the rest of the field will just catch up.
He added: “I think you’ll eventually got to a point where there are no short hitters.
“Technology means most people hit pretty much straight all the time now.
“There will be a limit in the end where club heads or shafts can’t take any more and there will be a limit on the distance peiple can hit the ball.
“Then it’ll get to a point where everyone will catch up.”