Following a decade of grinding it out in the Nationwide/Web.com Tour, Australia’s Scott Gardiner now stands tall as a full card-carrying member of the US PGA Tour. Inside Golf’s Garrett Johnston sat down with the Liverpool native to discuss his rookie season thus far, and the exciting times ahead.
How’s your rookie year going?
“It’s been good. I’ve seen a lot of people that I haven’t seen in a while, so it’s nice to get re-acquainted with anybody who has come through the Web.com in the last eight years. It’s a pretty good place to play, everybody gets along. And it’s nice to see new places.”
How much do you enjoy the travel that comes with the Tour in the States?
“It’s a lot easier than ten years ago when I was in Europe. This year, going to bigger cities, the planning is a little tougher. It’s all last-minute, not that it’s a bad thing. I’ve seen a lot of places. And you can’t beat this kind of weather.”
You played well in your first US PGA Tour start at the Sony Open in Hawaii (finishing T15).
“It was on the coast. I grew up on the coast, so I got pretty comfortable. It’s a good golf course. It was a win-win with the climate and (it being a) PGA Tour event.”
Was that your first time to Maui?
“I’d been there maybe three years ago. I had a holiday there. A lot of fun memories of the attractions, like North Shore, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki…a lot of fun places.”
After being a member of the Nationwide/Web.com Tour over the last decade, what do you make of it?
“The Web.com Tour evolves every year. There’s always a few things that change. There’s always a few new guys coming. A lot of the guys that have been coming up (to the PGA Tour) have been staying here so it’s been pretty good.”
What do you make of the direct access to the PGA Tour via Web.com?
“It’s good for the people in the system and obviously that’s good for someone like myself. It’s people who are just trying to forge their way into the PGA Tour that it makes it a bit harder. People have to accept that you’ve still got to play great to get to the final stage. I don’t know. It must be that the numbers will say that the web.com has been a good grounding for people to stay out here but it’s kind of a shame. You probably won’t have the guys like John Huh or Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson. There’s only been four or five guys get their cards (through earnings, exemptions).”
What draws you to the game of golf?
“Income [laughs]. No, I just like playing, just the challenge. It’s you and the course and generally if you finish under par you’ve won and if you haven’t you’ve lost. You’re competing against people and we’re all friends but we’re trying to do the best that we can. Trying to get a trophy every week.”
What’s your favourite golf memory?
“Playing well at the Sony Open was great. Winning on the web.com Tour (Chattanooga, 2010) was pretty good. I’ve enjoyed many moments playing the game.”
Speaking of moments, was there an “aha” moment when you knew golf was what you needed to pursue?
I guess when I moved to the Gold Coast. In Western Sydney, everybody surfed and I didn’t swim very well so golf was something I could pursue when they were surfing. I was about 13 or 14. I would play Coolangatta and Tweed Heads. We moved from Western Sydney to the Gold Coast when I was 13 and that’s when I took to golf more.”
You’ve mentioned in the past that the Gold Coast is your favorite place. Why?
“It’s a great place. Who doesn’t want to be near the beach?”
What’s your favourite course in Australia?
“Probably Kingston Heath. You can go down there every day of the year and it’s great.”
What are some of your other passions?
I like all sports, generally American Football or Rugby League. I’ve been to a couple of NFL games and they’ve been a lot of fun. I’ve seen Denver play Kansas City and the Redskins play the Giants. I’ve gotten to see both Mannings play so that’s pretty cool.”
What draws you to American Football?
The contact, and the atmosphere at the games is pretty good. I live in a college town as well. The Arkansas Razorbacks, they’re a top-ten-ranked team for two of the last three years so that’s led me to follow football. You get on to a game with 80,000 people, so it’s good.
How enjoyable has it been to have your son in your life?
“It’s been great. No matter how many bogeys you make he’ll do things that make you laugh. Probably every guy that’s out here, and has kids, will tell you that. Kids are crazy and fun.”
Many of your peers say you like to do your own thing. Is that true?
“That’s what they tell me too [laughs]. Nobody else is going to do it for you. You’ve got to do what you think will make you successful. I took up this game because it was fun. I’m going to try to enjoy it. When you get serious, that’s not what got you here. You have to take the good shots with the bad shots. In-between you’ve got to let it go. You see a lot of interesting things so there’s always two ways to talk about something.”
Footnote: Gardiner is the first player of aboriginal descent to have full status on the PGA TOUR. His mother is aboriginal and his father is Scottish.