Austin Bautista is getting used to firsts occurring frequently when it comes to his golf right now.
The Bonnie Doon member, fresh from a dominant nine-shot win in the nationally ranked Federal Amateur Championship a couple of weeks ago has just notched another one – successfully pre qualifying for his first professional tournament.
And it's not just any professional tournament, it’s the Emirates Australian Open.
“It kind of feels surreal actually,” he says. "It’s pretty cool to play an Aussie Open, it's pretty sweet.”
Bautista has been riding a red-hot putter of late, and his pre-qualifying effort was pretty much a case of picking up where he left off over recent weeks.
The 18-year old is taking his place in the field courtesy of a 5-under par 66 at Ryde-Parramatta Golf Club. In a sign of maturity beyond his years, he stayed patient and waited for his chances to come.
“I just concentrated on hitting to a spot today. For the first six holes I didn’t make a putt.”
“I finally made one on the 7th and then I came home in 31,” he says.
Bautista qualified for this year's US Amateur by winning his qualifying event in San Francisco.
He eventually missed making the match-play rounds by 2 shots.
“It was one of the biggest events by far I’ve ever played.”
As for this week, his expectations are a lot like his confidence right now – high.
“I want to keep riding this wave – I’m playing really good,” he says. “The key is I’m making putts, and staying in the moment.”
“My goal this week is to play as many holes as I can.”
And for Bautista, that could well be 72 holes, beginning on Thursday.