Date: February 06, 2016
Author: Bradley Green

Both returns to Aussie scene in style

As a youngster growing up in country Victoria, Marcus Both used to regularly make the seven-hour round from Horsham to watch the Oates Victorian Open.

Both’s first experience playing in the tournament came back in 1997, when he and another up-and-coming Victorian amateur named Aaron Baddeley qualified for the field.

That was the year that West Australian Stephen Leaney won the tournament for the second time.

“I remember standing on the first tee at Victoria, that short little par-four down the hill, and shaking like a leaf,” Both recalls.

“Quite a bit of water has passed under the bridge since then and I still get butterflies, especially playing in front of family and friends as well.

“Aaron Baddeley and I played some practice rounds together (in 1997) and obviously he’s kicked on a little bit.

“But that’s the motto of the tournament `where stars are born’ and he’s made an unbelievable career for himself. But you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Since then Both has made infrequent appearances in the Victorian Open – and Australian tournaments in general – since turning professional in 2003.

In fact, the last tournament Both played on home soil was the 2014 Oates Victorian Open, where he finished tied for 49th.

But the 36-year-old, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, is enjoying the opportunity to come `home’ and play this week at 13th Beach Golf Links.

After just scrapping past the cut line on Friday, Both made the most of his early Saturday morning tee-time to shoot a four-under par 68.

His round included five straight birdies early in his round with his only blemish being a bogey on the par-four 14th.

Both, who plays in Asia, said he was happy with the way he hit the ball in the third round playing alongside Geelong-based pro Brad Lamb.

“I hit it beautifully,” Both said. “Early on I hit some really nice shots and made some putts. Even the first couple of holes I had some makeable chances and left them short in the jaws.

“Unfortunately that continued from the ninth through to 18. I just kept giving myself opportunities but couldn’t get the thing in the hole which is a bit frustrating.

“But at this point I’m happy with the way things are progressing with my game. I had to go back to Q-school in Asia a couple of weeks ago and I got my card back there.

“So my game is starting to come around. Last year was quite poor by my standards but it’s getting there and it’s just a pleasure to play this golf course another day tomorrow.”

The gallery following Both included father Ross and some close, long-time friends and he’s enjoyed seeing some familiar faces strolling around the Barwon Heads course this week.

“It’s awesome to come home and see the support and what the Victorian State Government has done with this event,” Both said.

“The community out here has really got behind it.

“The course is fantastic. Obviously the storm that they had a couple of weeks ago wasn’t great for the community. But the golf course certainly benefitted from it.

“I’ve had a nice career up in Asia but to come home and play well is far more exciting to be honest.”