Golf-One-armed bandit Palmer chasing Euro Tour jackpot

By Tony Jimenez LONDON, Nov 5 (Reuters) - The European Tour has dubbed him the "one-armed bandit" and there is no doubt Britain's Jason Palmer will have fans and fellow pros scratching their heads when he makes his full-time debut on the circuit next season. The 30-year-old, who plays chip shots from fewer than 50 yards with one hand, experienced some crushing blows in his career before achieving a lifelong dream on Sunday by gaining a place among golf's elite. "It feels a little surreal at the moment," Palmer told Reuters in a telephone interview from Dubai after securing his tour card by finishing runner-up at a second-tier event in Oman at the weekend. "I feel a mix of emotions, relief, joy, everything. "It's been my goal since turning pro in 2009 to make the main tour and it's certainly been a roller coaster ride." The yips represent every golfer's nightmare and they are normally associated with a shaky putting stroke. Palmer, however, used to have an attack of the jitters on every shot he tried from fewer than 50 yards before he found a unique solution to the problem. "I was at rock bottom on one of the satellite tours and I would just hit every bad shot imagineable from that range, it was scary," he explained. "Then in 2010 I was having a chipping competition with a friend and I showed him what I could do with one hand and he said, 'Look Jason it's a no-brainer, you've got to do this in competition'. MORE TOUCH "I gave it a try and after that I embarked on a really good run. It's crazy really but I still do it today," said Palmer. "Everything now from 50 yards and more I'm two-handed but from 50 yards in I'm one-handed unless I'm in a bunker. I just have more touch and feel with one hand." The European Tour referred to him on their website at the weekend as the "one-armed bandit" and it's a moniker he likes. "I saw that," laughed Palmer. "My friends at home are already using that one -- it's good." The Englishman's mental block with the shorter clubs is no laughing matter, though. "If someone asks me to chip two-handed now I daren't take the club back as I know there's not going to be a good result at the end of it," he added. "Whereas when I go one-handed it just relieves all the tension and I let it flow naturally. "It's hard to put into words exactly what I experienced when I had two hands on the club for chipping but I'm hoping that maybe other guys out there who experience the same problems as me can see that this could be a cure for them too. "I get a bit of grief from my fellow pros from time to time but for the time being I'll certainly be persevering with one-handed chips." Palmer's finish in Oman on Sunday lifted him to seventh place on the Challenge Tour rankings with earnings of 105,886 euros ($132,082) this season. ROCKY ROAD While clearly delighted to clinch his place among Europe's heavy hitters next term, the Leicester professional could not help but look back at the rocky road he had taken to the top. "At the end of 2012 I had nothing," he said. "I then managed to win the Alps Tour in 2013 which gave me a lot of confidence and this year my season has taken off on the Challenge Tour. "There are times when you think, 'Can I afford to carry on?'. I remember a time in Denmark when I had no money and had to sleep in someone's utility room. "It was about 12 feet by five feet, there was just enough room for a camp bed and I was woken up by the owner one morning because he wanted to put his washing on," said Palmer. "I managed to play okay and covered my expenses that week but I kind of thought whether that's what I should be doing with my life." Palmer also lost his golfing mentor two years ago when his father died. "My dad would always push me really hard with my golf, to the point sometimes where we didn't get on," he said. "I could finish second in a tournament somewhere, be really pleased, and when I got home he would just be like, 'Second is not good enough, you need to win'. "I've realised since he passed away that all he was trying was to get the best out of me. He was competitive, it rubbed off and in a strange way it took his passing for me to really knuckle down and give it everything I've got with my golf," said Palmer. "I'm thrilled I've managed to play well this season and achieved my dream but I know my dad wouldn't want me to stop there." ($1 = 0.8017 euro) (Editing by Ken Ferris)