Of all the names mentioned in dispatches for a possible winner of the Emirates Australian Open at The Australian, that of Brett Rumford as his year on the European Tour was as the man himself admits was wretched.
It is simply littered with missed cuts, well 14 to be exact, with the lone beacon of a tied 11th in the Trophee Hassan in Morocco. What a far cry from 2013 when he won the Ballantines Championship and Volvo China Open in back-to-back victories.
Yet, today he sits atop the leaderboard along with young American Jordan Spieth and two-times open champion Greg Chalmers after a third round two under 69 in trying winds gusting to 35km and crusty greens that were trying to say the least.
Let Rumford take over the commentary.
“Look, it’s playable (the course). I think it’s on razor’s edge. It is the National open and they try the same, obviously weather permitting, the same style of golf course.
“(But it) was as close to unplayable as they could get without it being so,” he said.
Rumford, though, is used to play in tough weather, as it’s so often dealt up at venues on the European Tour, especially the links courses. He did win an Irish Open where the weather can be most foul, even in summer.
Speaking of the conditions today he said: “Yes, it’s tough. I’m certainly not saying it’s easy but you’ve got to be smart. You feel as though you’re pedaling a million miles an hour going nowhere seemingly.
“You don’t know whether it’s your ball strike that’s holding it together or whether it’s your short game … the way the golf course is if you don’t have a short game this week you’re going to battle a little bit,” Rumford said.
Ask any of his tour colleagues on tour what they think of Rumford’s short game and the resounding reply would surely be an A-plus.
“There are birdies out there … but you’ve really got to stay patient. You’ve really got to grind out and make your pars. There’s probably seven holes where you’ve got some opportunities if you hit a good enough drive.
His major tournament victory on the Australasian Tour was the 1999 Players Championship at Royal Queensland as an amateur, beating Craig Spence who, obviously, picked up all the cash.
To win tomorrow would be the highlight of his professional career, topping any of his five European Tour victories.
“It’s the national open. It’s everyone’s boyhood dream when growing up to win your national open,” he said.
Asked why 2014 has been, well, miserable, Rumford replied: “It’s probably a multiple of things, just golf being golf. It’s a hard game; the hardest game in the world. So, no excuses, it’s just you need everything to come together when you play championship golf. The quality of golf is improving.”
Rumford could have gone into the technicalities had he so desired, but it would have taken some time. He does love a chat, and he makes a lot of sense, but he realizing deadlines were approaching for the Sunday papers.