Date: July 16, 2013
Author: OneAsia

Dartnall back on track for Major week

OneAsia regular Stephen Dartnall embarks on the biggest tournament of his career this week when he tees it up with the world&aposs best at the Open Championship in Muirfield, near Edinburgh. The 29-year-old made it into the field of the 142nd edition of the world&aposs oldest Major by finishing third in January at International Final Qualifying (IFQ) in Melbourne, setting down a marker for what he hoped would be a breakout season. “There is less pressure at the (qualifying) tournament because there are only three spots available, so I was pretty relaxed,” he said of that effort, which saw fellow OneAsia members Mark Brown and Steve Jeffress also go through. “I tightened up a bit at the end, but I had been playing pretty well for a few months and managed to bring it home.” Dartnall has not missed a cut on OneAsia in 2013, although his best finish is joint 20th at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in May. His best result in nearly three years on tour remains tied 12th at last year&aposs Australian PGA Championship, presented by Coca-Cola. For a while Dartnall felt like chucking-in the game after experiencing the highs and lows of life as a journeyman touring professional. “In 2009 I went to the U.S. to try Monday qualifying for tournaments. I did pretty well — I got a few starts and just missed out on getting my Nationwide Tour card,” said Dartnall, who turned professional at the end of 2008. “The following year wasn&apost so great, but I got my Nationwide Tour (now Tour) card in 2011 at Q-School, so things were really looking up.” The year proved disastrous, however, as Dartnall made just three cuts in 22 starts. “I got a bit lost over there. I definitely lost my way — I lost confidence and wasn&apost enjoying myself,” he said. “It was the wrong mental process really. I got caught up in thinking that getting your card was the important thing but when you start focusing on keeping your card or just making cuts, you lose sight of the important things — winning.” It didn&apost help that Dartnall never really established a base, and was relying on friends for accommodation — becoming virtually a backpacking professional. “I had plenty of friends over there, but I didn&apost really have a home and I value the chance to be by myself every now and then, to work things out,” he said. On his return to Australia, Dartnall put the clubs in the closet and joined his father in the family business. “I didn&apost know if I even wanted to play again. You practice hard, but feel you are beating your head against the wall. I was a bit over it. “Working with my dad really helped. Getting away from golf was actually refreshing. It gave me the chance to step back and see if I still had the passion for it.” The passion definitely remained, and it wasn&apost long before Dartnall was back at his game. Helped now by swing coach Lyndsay Stephan and psychologist Sean Lynch, Dartnall is hoping to translate his current consistency into a week to remember. “I&aposm trying not to get to get too excited about the Open and to try and treat it as a job to do,” he said. “You go there to try to win, obviously, but really you just do what you can and see what happens. It gives you the chance to tee it up with the best. Guys have done very well against the odds. There is nothing that says I can&apost.”