My next run of events saw me down in Canberra for three Pro-Ams. I must admit, I love Canberra. I think it’s easy to get around and the golf courses are generally great. Added to this I had a chance to stay with an old mate of mine, Pat Maher. I’ve known Pat for about 25 years as he moved to Port Macquarie as the assistant Pro in the mid 90’s. He is now the head professional at Royal Canberra.
The first event was at Yowani Country Club, which I consider one of the best tracks in Canberra. It’s really tight off the tee with quick greens, which plays into my hands. Unfortunately, it didn’t this year and I shot even par to miss the money. I don’t believe that the course was playing that easy, but it just goes to show you the depth we have in Australian golf.
Federal Golf Club was the flowing day and it’s a place that I hadn’t played. The course was in awesome condition and I played great, shooting 6-under-par, which finished 2nd. I got off to a great start; being 5-under through 7 holes helps. The final two days were at Gold Creek Country Club. Mat Miller is the head professional and he has built the event up to 2 days, which is great. The first day I struggled on the greens. They were running at about 12 on the stimpmeter so they were lightning fast. I shot 3 over and had six three-putts. I have to go back a long way to remember the last time I had six three-putts in a round. Needless to say, I was a long way back and needed a great round 2 just to win money. Well it didn’t happen, I shot a 1-over-par 73 and won a centre of a donut!
The Volvo China Open was my next event and I headed up on the Sunday before, as it’s a long trip. I wouldn’t normally head to an event that early but as I’m getting older, sitting down for hours upon hours really stiffens my back up. Getting there a day earlier means that I can get moving and I have one more day to feel normal again. I was travelling with a good mate, Michael Sim as he lives only about 15 minutes from me. I walked out the door at 6am and arrived at the hotel in China at 4am the next morning. Unfortunately we had to fly through Sydney, which adds almost half a day in travel but until I can afford my own jet, I’ll have to put up with it.
This was a big event for me. Not only was it a European Tour event, but also we were playing for around $3.8 million, so a good week can financially keep you going for quite a while. But in saying that, it was always going to be hard for the Aussies up there. The guys in Europe have had a run of events and are a little more match hardened. Our last tour event was the New Zealand Open, which was about 6 weeks earlier. But there was no time for excuses, we had to put good numbers on the board.
Monday and Tuesday were fairly easy days where I spent a fair amount of time on the practice fairway and just playing 9 holes each day. I was in the late Pro-Am Wednesday so I didn’t want to tire myself out too early. I’m not sure exactly why they would put me in the Pro-Am. Sure, I’m a good player; sure I’m a nice guy and can give great days on the course… but there was one little problem: I don’t speak Chinese! And my playing partners didn’t speak English. So it was hard to give them a great day.
I was off late the first day and I was lucky enough to be paired with Sam Brazel, who I’ve known for a lot of years. The morning conditions were great and then about 12pm, the wind entered. It was nearly blowing the pins out of the holes! I played solid, turning in even but unfortunately had 4-over my back-9 to shoot 76. I was now in a position where I had to go low in round 2. The weather was perfect the next morning and I was 2-under through 3 but that’s where the charge ended. I signed for an even-par round to miss the cut by 4. Hey, it happens, but it’s disappointing when it happens in a massive event and when you’re in China. When you miss a cut in China and you have to wait for your flight on Monday, it feels like you have to wait three weeks, even though it’s only two days. But I did make the most of my time, spending quite a few hours on the range and putting green, thinking about fine-tuning the game for Korea the next week.
We arrived in Korea Monday afternoon and Michael has a good mate who picked us up and took us to dinner. He took us to a Korean BBQ and I have to say, for a guy who isn’t the biggest fan of Asian food, it was awesome.
Whenever you play events in Korea, sometimes you aren’t made to feel overly welcome. We headed to practice on Tuesday but weren’t shown a lot of love. There was only one hole cut on the putting green and we couldn’t really get on the range, as there was a training camp in progress. Normally during a tournament week you would have access to all the facilities and the course, but not in Korea! Our only chance to have a practice round was on Wednesday morning as they allocated times. In a funny twist, Michael was put in a group with three Korean guys that couldn’t speak English. The rest of the Aussies were all together, and it’s fair to say that we gave him a hard time about it.
Namseoul is an interesting course with really sloping greens that are really quick and tight fairways. For a member it cost $420 US to play a round! Anyway I had rounds of 75 and 73 to miss the cut by 4. The golf was solid but the putter had just gone a little cold. But I know it will be back. So the wait for my Sunday night flight started and, like in China, it feels like three weeks. Maybe that’s the punishment for missing the cut.
So it was a disappointing couple of weeks but hey, it happens. Coming up over the next month I have the mining town Pro-Ams in Queensland and then back to Korea and Japan so it will be a busy month and time to put some results on the board.