West Australian golfer Jarryd Felton was part of the mass exodus of West Coast Eagles fans from Perth this week — but unfortunately for this self-confessed “mad Eagles supporter”, he was flying in the wrong direction.
Instead of heading east to the MCG, Felton is in Hong Kong as one of six Aussie golfers who’ll contest the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at the Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club.
To make matters worse, at least from a footy fan’s perspective, Felton is likely to miss the entire match with the Grand Final to clash with Saturday's third round.
But Felton has a different holy grail in his sights, and the Gosnells Golf Club member knows he has his priorities straight. The winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur will earn the biggest prize on offer in all of amateur golf, a start in next April’s U.S. Masters.
“Obviously it’s a bit disappointing,” said Felton of his own sporting dreams clashing with the Grand Final.
“Maybe the (third round) draw will go my way and I can watch a little bit of it.”
Felton is also disappointed to be a little underdone in his golfing preparation – dealing with lingering back soreness aggravated by a hectic travel schedule that has had him zig-zagging from Perth to the United States, Queensland, Germany and now Hong Kong in the past two months.
Fortunately, Felton has a friend high up at Cathay Pacific who secured him some extra legroom in an exit-row seat on the eight-hour flight from Perth.
“I pulled up a little stiff after the trip back from Germany, so I’ve just been resting and haven’t had that much practice. I did a bit of short-game work and putting, but I didn’t really hit that many balls.”
“I’ll definitely be raring to go this week, though. The flight over here was good and it was only eight hours.”
Felton says the pain is “easily manageable” and has high hopes for the coming week on a testing golf layout that overlooks the South China Sea.
“I feel like I do have a good chance, but there are a lot of great players in the field. I’m looking to develop a good game plan over practice rounds and stick to it during the week – then just see how I go.”
“From what I’ve heard about the course, it’s pretty tough … (but) that suits me as I feel I can grind it out when it gets difficult out there.”
The Asia-Pacific Amateur is a fork in the road for Felton, who will turn to the professional ranks with anything less than a win this week.
Defending champion Anthony Murdaca has similar plans and, as close friends, the pair has spoken about Murdaca’s Masters experience from earlier this year.
“I’ve seen (fellow West Australian) Oliver Goss and Murdaca go to Augusta. It would be amazing to have that experience, but obviously I have no idea what it’s really like without being there,” he said.
“They’ve been there and said it’s exactly as it seems on TV. It would be an unreal experience to see it for yourself.”
A Masters start may be on top of Felton’s list of priorities this week, but ever the optimist, Felton doesn’t see why he can’t have it all.
“Obviously coming here is where I’d want to be,” said Felton
“But any other week I’d want to watch the Grand Final or even be there.
“I’ve got other things to do obviously – I’d take that Masters invite over anything else, but hopefully we can both get up!”