First Turkish pro Sayin carries hopes of a nation

Fri Nov 8, 2013 2:06pm EST
 
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By Tony Jimenez

BELEK, Turkey (Reuters) - When the head of the national federation walks past and smiles, 'I'm gonna kill you', he is clearly joking but in some ways it also underlines how much pressure Turkey's first professional golfer is facing.

Hamza Sayin only turned pro last month and is experiencing a baptism of fire at this week's $7 million Turkish Airlines Open.

The fresh-faced 27-year-old from Istanbul occupied 77th place in the 78-man field after two rounds, with only amateur compatriot Ali Altuntas faring worse.

"This is my first time on the European Tour and I'm just so happy to have my name associated with this tournament," Sayin told Reuters in an interview as he sat outside the grand clubhouse at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course.

"I'm enjoying it and it's good experience for me. I've been playing for 15 years, I started with my friends when I was 12 and I've always wanted to play golf.

"There aren't many golf courses in Turkey and the national federation only started in 1996 so it's a new sport for us."

At that point, federation president Ahmet Agaoglu walked by, looked over and interrupted the interview to wave his fist and smile: "When you're finished with him I'm gonna kill him".

Agaoglu has big dreams for Sayin and wants the player to launch his professional career this week with a confidence-boosting performance.   Continued...