Giles Evans – A Mizuno Next Gen Tour (by Clutch) Story

How the 2022 Order of Merit winner secured six Challenge Tour starts for 2023

As the Mizuno Next Gen Tour, by Clutch gets underway for 2o23, we looked back at how Giles Evans used the 2022 tour as a springboard to his professional career.  Team Mizuno player Evans finished top of the Mizuno Next Generation (Clutch Pro Tour) Order of Merit in just his second full year as a professional, earning six starts on the Challenge Tour in 2023.  The 25-year-old from Thetford in Norfolk is aiming high in has career – but credits the tour for giving him an opportunity to kick start his progress.

Giles Evans starting his 2023 season at Frilford Heath. Pic by Andy Crook

Alex Thorne, European Tour Manager for Mizuno Golf expanded.  “There are rare prodigies who go straight into the big time from junior golf. Most need a path to follow, to work to get there. The Mizuno Next Generation Tour by Clutch came along at exactly the right time to provide that pathway.  Giles grasped it with both hands and is a great example of how you can break through a little later.  Was a nice bonus for us that the first order of Merit winner was a Team Mizuno member.”

We spoke to Giles to discover more about his golfing development, his relationships with Mizuno, the Mizuno Next Generation Tour and his loyal caddy Owen, shooting a 59 and his ambitions for the future.

Giles Evans didn’t start playing golf until he was 14. Pic by Andy Crook

How did you get into golf?

It happened naturally. I started quite late compared to a lot of the lads I compete with now. I didn’t start until I was 14 and it just happened. I used to play a lot of squash. I started playing golf too as the club, Barnham Broom, was a squash club and a golf club.

I had a lesson and I had decent hand-eye coordination from the squash, so I took to it well. I could get it in the air and was hooked from the start.

And the next step was the Lee Westwood Academy?

Yeah, I was only off seven when I went to the Westwood Academy. But over two years I got down to scratch. But I wasn’t really thinking about a playing career at that stage.

I went to the University of Birmingham and studied Applied Golf Management Studies. The PGA degree. Golf was meant to take a backseat but I have to admit I probably prioritised playing a little more than I should have. I had a crazy year before my final year and got to plus four… That was when I really started to think playing the game could be an option.

Giles Evans is also a member of Team Mizuno. Pic by Andy Crook.

What was the trigger for that dramatic improvement?

I think hard work was a good part of it – I did a placement in Norfolk and was able to live at home and work on my game. I’ve always been someone who, if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it whole heartedly and that was how I decided it needed to be with golf. People do say I tend to get a little obsessed!

So you turned pro?

That happens with the degree I did, getting your PGA membership is a great thing. But in my two first starts as a professional I won so that really gave me a lot of confidence. That was at the end of 2019 and obviously Covid hit at the start of 2020.

That was a tough year as there was really very little to play in and I think I only had six starts. But I finished top three in three of them and that gave me more fuel for the fire in terms of self-belief.

But in 2021 you finished second on the Mizuno Next Generation Order of Merit.

That was pretty cool. I think, particularly because I look at a lot of the lads I’m competing against, and they’ve all had really good amateur careers and I didn’t have that at all. It took me a little time to work out that I belonged out there. I look at some of them who are younger and are maybe steps ahead of me on the Challenge Tour or main tour but in the grand scheme of things, I’m still very aware that I’m right at the start of the process.

Mizuno Next Generation Tour by Clutch. Pic by Andy Crook.

How important has the Mizuno Next Generation Tour been to your development?

It’s a massive springboard. For us to have the opportunities that they give us is incredible. I think it’s unrivalled in terms of development tours. The incentives they’re putting up, and right from the second you get there at the events it’s a first-class experience. Providing that level with the resources they have is really exceptional.

Watching it evolve over the last couple of years has been great. Again their plans for next year look incredible. And to finish second in my first year and then the goal was to better that in 2022 and I managed it.

Topping the Order of Merit – What were the highlights?

I had a pretty shocking first half of the season. On the back of that strong first year, I think I put a too much pressure on myself, dealing with other people’s expectations for the first time really.

We had an event at Royal Norwich – a home event for us. That was cool as friends and family were there, so we really wanted to perform well.

Going into it I was playing badly but I found some form, held the first-round lead and finished second in the end. To put on that performance, considering how I’d been playing, proved a lot to me that I can deal with the pressure.

The standout though was probably The Oxfordshire – our first win this season. The week before I had a two-shot lead with two to play and made a triple up the 17th and lost the event. That was tough to take, we were gutted. But as soon as we got in the car it was full focus on the next week and trying to make it right.

There was a lad in the car park after the first round at The Oxfordshire and I overheard him – he didn’t know I was in the car opposite. He was saying ‘there’s a low one out there for tomorrow but at least we know that Giles Evans isn’t going to win – did you see him bottle it last week?’ That really sparked me to get the job done. I birdied the 17th and then stood on the last tee and said to my caddy – ‘let’s prove him wrong.’ From there onwards, it was a special end to the season so that event was really the turning point.

And you shot a 59 this autumn?

Yeah, at Rotana in Morocco. It was three eagles, seven birdies and no bogeys. I was so nervous on the last, tapping in a one-foot putt for 59. It was just a fun game but that was really nerve-wracking.

Who is your caddy?

Owen Mills – He’s assistant pro at Thetford. Having him on the bag the last two years has been incredible. He’s hard working and has a similar outlook on work ethic to me. That pushes me along and keeps me working hard. As a team we’re inseparable. I can confidently say there’s no better caddy on a development tour than Owen.

Giles Evans with his caddy Owen Mills. Pic by Andy Crook.

Tell us about the relationship with Mizuno.

It started with a custom fitting for a set of clubs and it sort of evolved from there into me being on a full deal and their support has been phenomenal. It’s my first deal with a manufacturer and I feel very lucky.

You always expect teething problems when you swap 14 clubs in a bag but the team at Mizuno has been brilliant at getting everything right really quickly.

We all know the irons are superb and I think I was probably most worried about changing woods and putter as I’d been so comfortable with my Titleist and Scotty Cameron. But from the get-go, those were the clubs I loved the most. For me, a standout statistic my coaching team look at is that when I hit fairways I tend to win or contend so hitting fairways is a big thing for me. With Mizuno, I’m hitting so many more fairways, their woods are so forgiving.

Giles has 14 Mizuno clubs in play. Including the new MCraft OMOI putter. Pic by Andy Crook.

The Mizuno OMOI putter. Pic by Andy Crook.

What are your goals for 2023?

Most obvious and biggest is to get Challenge Tour status. It’s great from the Mizuno Next Generation Tour to have six Challenge Tour starts next year – six opportunities to force my way in and to gain some valuable experience. That’s the thing I really need to move on to the next level, gain that experience.

Those six events and the Mizuno Next Generation Tour schedule is very good too. I’ll also look to play Q school at the end of the year. The number 1 goal is to go into 2024 with official Challenge Tour status.

Evans will continue to compete on the Mizuno Next Gen Tour, in addition to his Challenge Tour starts.

Giles Evans – What’s In The Bag

Driver – Mizuno ST-Z 230 with HZRDUS Smoke RDX Tour X flex shaft

3-wood – Mizuno ST-Z 230 with HZRDUS Smoke RDX Tour X flex shaft

Mizuno Pro Fli-Hi 1 iron

Mizuno Pro 223 4-iron

Mizuno Pro 221 from 5-PW

Mizuno T22 wedges in 49, 55 and 60 degrees

Putter – M-Craft OMOI #03

View the Mizuno Next Generation Tour by Clutch schedule for 2023.