The Fin, winner of the 2020 Oman Open, believes he has the potential to reach World Number One
Sami Valimaki “I want to be World Number One”
Sami Valimaki has expressed his desire to reach the pinnacle of the world game and believes he has the ability to get there after a fantastic start to life as a professional golfer.
“Number one, of course” is his response when I ask him how good he thinks he can be, and he simply replies “yes” when I question if he really believes that’s possible. Like most Fins, he’s fairly reserved, but he certainly doesn’t lack confidence. And nor should he.
“People always ask me where my confidence in my ability comes from. I’ve always been very competitive. I want to win every tournament and I practise to try and reach the next level. I have won tournaments at each step and that gives me belief,” he says.
Often, confidence can be construed as arrogance, but that’s not the case here – Valimaki is simply answering questions with genuine honesty. A quick look at his professional career to date helps explain his state of mind.
The 21-year-old turned professional at the start of 2019 and won four times on the Pro Golf Tour, earning a promotion to the Challenge Tour after his third victory. But he went one better in November when an eighth-place finish at Q-School earned him a full European Tour card for 2020.
At the Oman Open in March, in just his sixth European Tour start, he defeated Brandon Stone in a three-hole play-off after holing a 20-footer for birdie on the 72nd green.
“It was awesome to make that putt on 18. I knew I had to make a birdie and I had nothing to lose. When I saw my putt, I had a really good feeling it would go in because the putt was so easy – downhill and inside left,” he says.
Most people wouldn’t describe a 20-foot putt for a place in a European Tour play-off as easy, but that’s just Valimaki’s nature.
“I had an edge because I went straight into the play-off and Brandon was a couple of holes ahead. I was really excited to get going again. I knew I was going to win the tournament,” he adds.
Unfortunately, Valimaki hasn’t been able to capitalise on winning momentum and has been stuck at home in his native Finland, waiting for competitive golf to resume. When it starts again, his quest to reach the summit of the world game will begin, but he accepts he has to take a step-by-step approach.
“The first thing, of course, is to get into the world’s top 50 and make it into the Majors. I think I have a chance of doing that next year, or even this year depending on when we start again,” he says.
“The way the world rankings work, if I have a good week I can move up a lot because I don’t have a high divisor [ed: world ranking points are divided by number of events played to work out an average per event]. I’m in a good position right now.”
With the European Tour unlikely to restart before July, it’s a tall order to for Valimaki to force his way into the world’s top 50. But based on what he’s achieved in his fledgling career, you wouldn’t put it past him.