AFTER nearly two decades on the European Tour, nine pro titles, more than 10 million euros in prize money and a world ranking of 26, Malton & Norton Golf Club ace Simon Dyson believes now is the perfect time to retire - almost.

Speaking to The Press, the 41-year-old insisted he would be taking a "step away from" – not retiring from – competitive golf as he focuses on his new venture, Elite Golf Performance.

The hope for EGP is that it will help budding golfers develop their technical and psychological strengths, as well as game-planning and "the art of shot-making".

Dyson - as well as, he says, the directors at the business' base of Mottram Hall in Cheshire - is enthused by his proposed new occupation but is confident it has not ushered out his previous métier, which made him arguably Ryedale's leading professional sportsman for a decade.

And his reluctance to see his golfing go by the wayside is understandable given that it formed a substantial and ever-increasing part of his life since primary school age.

"My brother got me interested in golf," Dyson said. "There was a football pitch at the side of our house where we used to take a ball and our golf clubs. We used to play football and then hit a golf ball from goalpost to goalpost.

"I got into playing because my brother came home one day and wanted to join the golf club, so my dad said to him, ‘Okay, I’ll take you up to the school field and see if you’re any good’.

"When they were heading out of the door, he asked if I wanted to come as well."

Is he glad he was taken along that day? "Very much so," said the Malton & Norton GC honorary life member.

From there, Dyson and his brother, Nick, three years his senior, honed their skills by playing 54 holes a day, seven days a week.

In 2000, a year after he turned professional - or about 275,184 practice holes after dad John took him out for his first round - Dyson was named Rookie of the Year on the Asian Tour, topping the Order of Merit having won the Macau Open, the Volvo China Open and the Hong Kong Open.

His Asian Tour lead was briefly put in jeopardy when he opted to forego two of the final five tournaments in order to battle for European Tour qualification, but the risk paid off and, by 2001, he had had his cake and was eating it on the tour that featured such greats as South African Ernie Els and Scot Colin Montgomerie.

When asked about his best opponent, Dyson said: "I never say the ‘best’ player I’ve played against - I’ve played against so many unbelievable players.

"I learned most from Ernie Els and the best round I saw was when Colin Montgomerie hit a 61 at St Andrews.

"Ernie Els, I sat and picked his brains for about five hours. I learned so much watching him and talking to him."

It was 2006 before Dyson claimed the first of his six European titles, taking the Indonesian Open that March thanks to a 20-under-par total, two better than anyone else.

He quickly followed up by topping the leaderboard at the KLM Dutch Open in August.

The KLM Open would prove to be a fecund fairway for Dyson, who went on to win it twice more, in 2009 and 2011.

The latter was also the year he won the Irish Open, thereby breaking back into the world top-50 rankings, while 2009 saw him register the biggest win of his career - the Alfred Dunhill Links at St Andrews.

This was to be a period of pride and pathos for Dyson, as he explained when talking about his regrets. He said: "Probably when I was in the top 50 in the world and not going to America and giving it a go over there.

"It was when I had just had a young family – my wife had a little girl – and I wanted to be home. I never thought for us all to go, I just thought I would go, play, and come back a few times.

"I wish we had all gone for a year."

On the flip side, though, were the highs - things like "that first invite to my first Masters in 2010".

He said. "It was an unbelievable feeling opening that envelope and seeing the invitation to something I’d been watching on TV since I was eight years old.

"Then there was walking down the 18th at St Andrews three shots clear and knowing that I had won the Dunhill Links."

That stellar season in 2011 was followed by a joint 17th-placed finish in the Abu Dhabi Championship at the start of 2012, which saw him rise to his best-ever world ranking of 26.

Controversy came in late 2013 when Dyson was fined £30,000 and given a suspended two-month ban following an incident where he was deemed to have failed to add a two-shot penalty to his card after tapping down a spike mark.

He finished 72nd in the Order of Merit that year, somewhat at odds with his 50th-placed finish in 2012 and his 41st place in 2014.

The following year, he climbed yet higher before he suffered the wrist tendon injury that was to blight the latter years of his career.

"My biggest low point was my injury and being out for a year," he said.

"That was hard to take. I was playing well, I was 30th in the Order of Merit that year. I got off to a nice start in Asia in 2015 and doing well out there.

"I was playing with friends and it felt like I’d broken my wrist, but it was worse because it was the tendon. It was hard to take knowing I would have to have an operation and be out for the rest of the year."

The last few years have seen the lesion's after-effects continue to frustrate Dyson's attempts to keep challenging at the top.

He dropped down to the PGA European Tour's second-tier competition, the Challenge Tour, last year and used it as a learning experience in preparation for his next step.

By January of this year, Dyson announced his plans to distance himself from tournament golf – but is keeping the door open to a return.

“I wouldn’t say I’m retiring,” he said. "Just taking a step away from competitive golf. I’m never going to say I won’t play again because I might miss it.

“But I haven’t been playing very well since my wrist injury and I haven’t been enjoying my golf much.

“Over the last few years I’ve been doing my qualification. I was playing on the Challenge Tour and I learnt more while watching golfers and about how I can help them.

“I really didn’t enjoy (playing) last year and it made me realise I want to do something else.

“I’ve been working hard with a life coach in getting this all (EGP) on track. She says there is no such thing as a coincidence - it’s all about timing, and I honestly feel this is the perfect time to do this.

"I pitched it to Jason Davies at Mottram Hall, he pitched it to his directors and they loved it.

"They’ve got unbelievable plans for a hotel and golf course and I timed it to perfection because it seems to fit in with what they’re aiming for.

“I want to help players of all standards achieve their full potential.

“This is about fitness, mobility and shot-making. So many people are very mechanical and I want to teach the art of shot-making and having more than just ‘swing’ in their game.

“I also want to teach the psychology side of it, on course management and visualisation – the whole package to be a very good golfer.

“I want to just grow it and see where it goes. The aim is for it to be as big as it can be and someday have academies across the world.”

Dyson can be found on social media, either on Instagram with the handle @simondysongolf or on Twitter via @simondyson77.