After a few days at home following getting home from Tour School I made my way up to Mt Broughton for the NSW PGA. The week would be a good lead into the Open the following week at The Lakes. I never quite got going through most of the event but still managed to get to 4 under through 2 rounds and in the top 20. A disappointing Round 3 of 1-over left me well back heading into the last day. After a really bad start to round 4 being 2-over through 3, I managed to storm back and shoot a final round 68 and end up in a tie for 11th. A solid week and the great finish left me feeling confident heading into the Open. In the past I have played well at The Lakes so I was confident of a good showing. Unfortunately for some reason my body really tightened up and I struggled with my ball striking the first 3 days. With an afternoon tee time on Day 1 and a strong southerly blowing my 75 wasn t too bad especially given nothing went right on course all day. I made the most of the morning conditions on day 2 to fire a 69 and get back into the tournament only 6 behind the lead. Day 3 would again see difficult conditions and I had a good putting day despite hitting a few poor tee shots and shot 71 to remain 6 back. I had high hopes of a strong finish on Sunday and tough conditions were predicted which could help. I don t think anyone expected what we got and I teed off in the strongest of winds I have seen on a golf course. At 3 over through 5 play was called and I had barely hit a bad shot. The ball was moving so hard in the air we weren t really playing golf. Like a few others who had started at a similar time, our event was basically over but had to make the best of it when we headed back out. Conditions improved slightly and I battled hard to shoot 5 over and finish 23rd. I was happy with the way I fought it out especially given the putts just wouldn t drop which is a key to scoring in such weather. It was great to see Peter Senior win – he is just a really good person and even tougher competitor. There aren t too many people who have done more for Australian Golf. From the Open it was off to the PGA at Coolum and my favorite week of the year. It was nice be able to get my parents up for the week and the Sunshine Coast was our most popular spot for summer holidays. I have always played well at Coolum and I think it must be the relaxed atmosphere there that helps me. Each day I get out for a swim both before and after play and it really refreshes the body. It would be a really interesting week with Jeff the T-Rex and all the other stuff going on. On the Tuesday I did a clinic with Nick O&aposHern and Paul Sheehan for the PGA&aposs Pump Junior program and that was a lot of fun before playing in the pro-am with Ian Baker Finch. He is a great guy and gave me a lot of good advice especially with the putter. Day 1 came around and a good southerly was blowing but I started well and ended up shooting a 69 one of the better afternoon scores. An early start on Friday and more good golf meant I finished the day 8 under and in a tie for 3rd a couple out of the lead. Playing in the second last group on Saturday was a another good experience and after a slow start I managed to play a good back nine to shoot 70 and be only 3 back heading into Sunday. I was happy with the score given my ball striking was a little off. I felt good on the range on Sunday but got off to a really poor start making a few bad errors that left me 3 over through 6 and out of the running. At the same stage my playing partner Rod Pampling was 6 under and playing great golf. The good thing was I bounced back and played really well from then on to only shoot 1 over for the day. With a little luck I could have shot under par for the round, which is a good sign going forward. Congratulations to Daniel Popovic on the win – it is an amazing achievement and one for the good guys. Probably the biggest upset in Australian golf history as well. So a T8 to finish the year and the best thing with my finish is that in the Open and PGA I didn t get the ball off the tee as I expect but I still managed to contend in both. The final link in my swing is almost there so a big 2013 awaits. That brings to an end a massive 2012 that has seen some tough times but ultimately my best season to date. The win in Korea was a huge step and my golf in the back half of the year has been extremely strong. I had only one finish worse than 23rd in Australian events all year and feel some big wins around the corner in 2013. I will now take 3 weeks off golf to get the body right and freshen up for the next year ahead. Thank you to everyone for all your support and emails, especially through the tough times – it means a lot. Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a wonderful 2013.
Author: Matt Griffin / Golf Australia