I'm proud of Sam.
He has been struggling on the course, fighting a fade in his shots and a lack of confidence in his shot making. His coach has corrected the swing sickness. When he manages to string together a strong run, however, Sam has failed to finish with panache, missing the cut in his last two big tournaments.
This past week, he traveled with the Belgian national junior team to Scotland to play in the Scottish Youth Championship. Its being played on a British Open qualifying course called Montfieth, a few kilometers from Carnoustie. On the phone, Sam told me it was a "true links."
In the first round, he shot a competitive 78. "I made some mental mistakes - it could have been much better." While a year ago, he would have called the round disastrous, this time he felt he had a fighting chance to make the cut.
In the second round, he teed off late and the wind was blowing hard against him in the first four holes. He began with a series of catastrophic holes that left him six over par after only four holes. Instead of giving up, though, he fought back, scoring back to back birdies. But on the next par five, he had to wait for a while lost his concentration and missed a short put. He struggled with his putting in the next few holes, but finished with a sparkling eagle on the 18th. It was too little to salvage the tournament - his 79 - left him failing to make the cut.
When Sam last went to Scotland, he easily made the cut in the Scottish Boys tournament. But what is encouraging is his attitude. On the phone, he called the round his "best yet mentally." Despite the horrendous start, he didn't give up. He fought. He broke 80. He sounded proud of himself, and he should be. If he has confidence, the results will follow.