Meet the former Amazon delivery driver primed to win £525,000

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David Skinns interview: 'It didn’t happen as quickly as I liked but I never lost the belief' - GETTY IMAGES
David Skinns interview: 'It didn’t happen as quickly as I liked but I never lost the belief' - GETTY IMAGES

Eighteen months ago, David Skinns felt obliged to take up a job as a delivery driver for Amazon and DoorDash. On Thursday, the Lincolnshire pro will be playing for a first prize of £525,000 in Bermuda as a rookie on the PGA Tour. At 39, it has been quite the journey.

Having taken 16 seasons to achieve his primary ambition of attaining status on the game’s biggest and most lucrative circuit, Skinns should be held up as an example of perseverance. Except, he does not see it that way. "I never felt I was consistently failing, never felt that I was falling short," Skins told Telegraph Sport, in between practice sessions at the Port Royal Course, on the west of the island.

"You know, it would be easy to present my story as that of a dreamer who wouldn’t give up despite being skint and yes, on occasion, there were times when as a husband and father I figured I’d have to get a job. But I honestly never felt like I wasn’t achieving my dream. I was still making enough money to keep doing it and to keep earning a living from a sport I love. And that was kind of goal achieved. Almost."

Skinns acknowledges there is more - "much, much more" - to be inserted on his resume and he is prepared to recognize the "urgency" in his circumstance as he tries to make the most of his limited starts on the PGA Tour to establish himself as an ever-present. The son of Rosemary Thompson, once ranked as England’s second-fastest 100m sprinter, would finally like his ancestry to pay off. "Yes, it would be nice for something now to happen quickly for me," he said with a laugh.

But the world No 231, is not minded to label his decade-and-a-half on the mini tours as "a struggle". "Those years gave me so much - I went to so many places, met so many people and made so many friends, I wouldn’t give them up," he said. "If I wasn’t on the Hooters Tour I wouldn’t have met my wife, wouldn't have the three kids. They were great days and this is just a new chapter."

Skinns was highly rated as a young amateur. He won the Daily Telegraph Junior Championship in 2000, reached the final of the British Boys in the same year, went on to represent England and was classed as unlucky when missing out on the 2005 Walker Cup in Chicago. By then Skinns had earned himself two All-American honours playing for the University of Tennessee and was considered one of the bright young English things in a crop including Nick Dougherty and Oli Wilson.

"I finished my psychology degree in 2006 and turned pro and came home to try my luck in Europe," he said. “But the management company I signed with only got me a few starts on the Challenge Tour and after a few missed cuts that was that and I had nowhere to play. I got an offer to play on the Hooters Tour and went back over to the States. I’ve been there ever since."

The now defunct Hooters Tour was a mini-league with a major influence. "We’d play for $200,000 prize purses every week," Skinns said. "I won the first event in my second season and remember the cheque to the cent - $33,566. That gave me a cushion as well as the faith to know that I could make money through golf. I won three times that year and that helped me keep the wolf from my door. I’ve always been able to do that - win a few quid when I’ve had to. I’ve had loads of friends from those days who’ve been forced to give up and get jobs."

As Skinns progressed up the pyramid there were sticky times. "I joined the PGA Tour Canada and there was one year when it was not happening for me," he said. "This was 2015. Kristen and I already had one son, Braden, and it was getting to the point where this is not really financially viable. I was in Edmonton and I didn't really know how I was going to pay for Q school. And I went out that week and finished third. It was only about $10,000, but I was able to pay the bills. Of course, the aim was to keep climbing, keep getting better. It didn’t happen as quickly as I liked but I never lost the belief I would get there."

Skinns spent several seasons on the Korn Ferry Tour, the main feeder to the PGA Tour, attempting to finish on the top 25 of the money list and so gain the golden ticket. 2020 did not begin too promisingly. "Well it didn't for anyone did it?" he said. "Our Tour basically shut down overnight and while it was in hibernation I did do some delivery driving, basically just to get myself off my backside. We came back that June and the 2020 and 2021 seasons were combined and I played well enough to give myself a chance going into the last regular event in August."

Skinns needed to win the Pinnacle Bank Championship to leap from 41st on the standings and with a final-round 67 in Omaha prevailed by a shot. “Yeah, I cried in the interview on TV when I thought about the kids and all the support Kristin has given me.

"Of course, the PGA Tour was always the goal and even though I’m 39, I really don’t feel like it. With my status, I don't get starts every week, so I accept that there is an urgency to do well. Every week out here now provides me with a career-changing opportunity and that’s not something to take lightly. I know I have what it takes. I always have."

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