LAURIE Canter began his 2018 European Tour season this week with the belief that he is developing the game to ensure he can make an impact at the top of leaderboards over the next 12 months.

Canter, based at the Cumberwell Park club near Bradford on Avon, was teeing it up at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open for his first event since retaining his Tour card for the second season in succession at the qualifying school finals in Spain last month.

The 28 year old is embarking on his third straight season at European golf’s top table since first earning playing rights there at Q School in late 2015, his best results to date being top-20 finishes at the Joburg Open and BMW SA Open around the turn of this year.

But as he tees it up at the Heritage Golf Club in Mauritius this week - the event was due to get under way on Thursday morning - Canter feels his game is now getting to the stage where he will be able to challenge for some big cheques in the future.

“It’s just more continuity on what I’ve been doing this year, with a couple of little tweaks, really,’’ he told the Wiltshire Times.

“I’m going to work really hard on my short game and my putting. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in that this year.

“If that continues next year, certainly I feel like everything is there to go and compete right at the top of the leaderboards.’’ He added: “I think that I’ve had some good learning experiences this year, like the Open and the British Masters - I played with a major champion every day there.

“You’re getting to see that and the qualities they had and I felt like ‘I can do this.’ Just continuing to grow in that environment is going to be great for me.

“It’s my third year in a row (on Tour) and I feel like I’m making big improvements every year.

“Sometimes you don’t always see that in your results, but this year I have seen it in my results, it’s just that they’ve not been quite as good as they’ve needed to be to keep my card.

“I feel in a really good place with my golf.’’ Despite having to go through the tribulations of Q School for two successive years since joining the Tour, Canter is convinced the experience has only proved beneficial for his career.

“If someone just gave you a European Tour card for a year and said ‘just go and play and soak it up,’ you can’t help but learn, just from the environment you’re playing in, the players you’re playing with, the facilities you’re using,’’ he added.

“All of those sorts of things, they do add up and they made you a better golfer without knowing it. I definitely felt a big improvement.

“I think I played 20 events (in the 2017 campaign) and only missed five of the weekends, so only missing five cuts all year is fairly good at that level.

“My stroke average improved by two shots this year which was massive, so you sort of think if that continues, a steady progression, hopefully you’re going to be knocking on the door of some bigger weeks.

“I wouldn’t really want my career defined by Q School, to be honest, I’d like to push on and not go back, like the last three years.

“It’s obviously a necessary evil right now and it’s certainly good to get through it and play with the big boys again next year.”

Meanwhile, Wiltshire’s Ben Stow was also appearing in the Mauritius tournament, a tri-sanctioned event between the European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Sunshine Tour.

The 26-year-old, from East Knoyle, near Warminster, needed reconstructive surgery in the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee after injuring it earlier this year while he was walking.