Living the dream
Golf Monthly|February 2022
Johannes Veerman is one of a number of Americans plying their trade in Europe at the moment, and he’s loving every minute...
MICHAEL WESTON

It’s not the done thing for a player to celebrate another’s misfortune. Even so, Johannes Veerman could have been forgiven for uttering a few encouraging words under his breath – nothing audible or over the top, of course – when Tapio Pulkkanen dunked one in the water on the final hole of the Czech Masters last August, an error which left the door wide open. After a few nearlies, this was Veerman’s opportunity – and he grabbed it with both hands.

You have to strike while the iron’s hot at this level. In July, Veerman had come third at the Irish Open and tied eighth at the Scottish Open – lucrative finishes, yes, but when you keep coming close, the pressure builds to get the job done. Miss out and who knows how long it’ll be before another opportunity to seriously contend presents itself? That Veerman had “never been so nervous” on a golf course is quite understandable. He could have talked about “staying in the moment” and “sticking to the routine” – which he probably did – but the affable American is not one to answer questions with a series of cliches. He prefers to be open and honest, which is refreshing.

“Oh my gosh, that win was huge,” he says with excitement. “It was a surreal position to be in. I was thinking, ‘You don’t have to make birdie here. It’s right there in front of you – just put it on the green and don’t mess it up!’

“I remember the cameras immediately rushed in on me and it was like, ‘How do you feel?’ I was great, but internally I was relieved and exhausted. Relieved because I believe I’m a good player but there’s one thing believing and another thing actually producing. To do it and win meant a lot in terms of my self-confidence.”

Hitting the road

The 29-year-old may have needed a confidence boost on the course for that confirmation that he really belonged on tour, but generally he’s quite a self-assured individual, which probably has something to do with his travels. He was born in California, but for much of his life he’s been on the move, so he’s had to find his feet quickly and adjust to new cultures.

He spent most of his upbringing in Asia – the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and China – before going to high school in Texas. After almost losing his thumb in a firework accident, he felt inspired to become a doctor. ‘Stick to the golf’ was the advice he got from the doctors when he was a pre-med student – so he did, and his attention shifted back to competing on the course.

It was “golf-crazy England” where he got the bug. When he was nine, he lived in Wokingham, and during his three years in Berkshire developed “the perfect English accent”. “The queen’s English accent,” he jokes, doing his very best to sound like someone from Downton Abbey and, in fairness, making a decent job of it.

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