Date: January 10, 2008

Exclusive: We chat to Nikki Garrett

When Nikki Garrett graduated to the Ladies European Tour at the end of 2005, even she could not have imagined the success that would come in her first two years after turning professional. The Central Coast starlet seemingly came from nowhere to make a name for herself as one of Australia&aposs most recognisable female golfers. In her debut season, Garrett took out LET Rookie of the Year honours and in her second, she won back-to-back events to firmly establish herself amongst the Tour&aposs players to watch. Despite the accolades and praise heaped upon the young Australian after her first year, Garrett said she did not feel any pressure from anyone to necessarily come out and get her first tournament win. “The only pressure that really came was from myself,” Garrett noted. “I put a lot more pressure on myself because I expected a lot more from myself after 06&apos. It was my main goal to get a win, but I didn&apost expect it to come so early!” Garrett&aposs debut win came at the Tenerife Ladies Open where her week started in slow and sluggish fashion. “I got onto the range in Tenerife and started hitting a few balls. I had actually just done a photo shoot in LA, so I hadn&apost played for about five or six days. I hit a few shots and thought this could be a long week – this is hideous! “But I worked extremely hard on the range for the next few days and even on the course I worked very hard. At the end of the week I started flushing it. I had so much confidence it was unbelievable!” While most players need to waits months or even years for a second victory, Garrett only had to wait a matter of days. Despite the fatigue and hangover of winning in Tenerife, Garrett backed up to win the Women&aposs Spanish Open at Mediterraneo Country Club. “I was just so tired,” Garrett said. “I only played a nine hole practice round and I couldn&apost do any more. Then I had a Pro Am and it was a totally different course to the one I had played the week before. You had to rely a lot more on your short game and play a lot of wedges in. “To win back to back was just amazing. The first week I felt like I really won it whereas the second week I felt like the other girl gave it to me. I held on and payed solid golf all day, capitalising on her mistakes.” Regardless of how she&aposd done it, Garrett had won back-to-back events, just as compatriot Karrie Webb had done the previous fortnight claiming the two LET sanctioned events in Australia. She was in illustrious company and after a stellar 2006, had proven she was the real deal. For most people, travelling around Europe would be a dream. But then again, most people aren&apost a diminutive 5&apos6″ professional lugging their life around in a golf bag! This is a week-to-week reality for Nikki Garrett. Whilst the illusion of being a professional golfer is fantastic, the reality is somewhat different and the 24-year old often craves some time out. “My idea of travel is without golf clubs and limited clothes for the beach!” she said. “I love Europe. It&aposs my favourite place besides home. It&aposs a great life. We&aposre getting used to all the planes and now that we know all the airports and how to get there, it&aposs getting a lot easier. It&aposs great. It&aposs a lot of fun.” But despite all of her jet setting, Garrett has never taken a holiday and is looking to change that very soon after the rigours and demands of the opening few months of the 2008 season. “Actually the first holiday I&aposm going on will be after my first European tournament this year. Tim (caddy) and I, maybe a couple of the other Australian guys, we&aposre hoping to go to Gallipoli for Anzac Day. “It would be unreal if we can manage that. The only place I&aposve really been on a holiday is New Zealand and I still took golf clubs, so I don&apost actually think I&aposve been on a proper holiday!” Being on the road so much means time away from family and friends which can take a toll on someone who has grown up so far away from Europe. Unlike her Ladies European Tour counterparts, Nikki can&apost simply fly a couple of hours to her home each weekend, instead having to look forward to mid-season visits. “My dad came over for three weeks last year which was really nice,” she said. “And my mum was pestering me to get her over to the Evian Masters and British Open because it was her birthday during Evian, so I might treat her over to Evian this year! “That&aposs meant to be a secret but you can say it if you like! It might get her excited! But I&aposll just have to see how I go. “Unfortunately my parents don&apost get over much at all. It would be great to see them a little bit more but in a realistic world, it just doesn&apost happen.” Over the Australian summer, Garrett went to the United States to try her hand at the LPGA Q-School. Unfortunately it didn&apost work out (she was cut at 14-over after the fourth round) but the 24-year old showed maturity and insight beyond her years when reflecting upon her week. “I know I take more away from my bad experiences than my good experiences,” she said. “You have more to learn from after a bad experience. You learn more about yourself and how you handle disappointments rather than when you win. “It was just one of those weeks when I wasn&apost hitting the ball well at all. The first day I putted ridiculously well. The second day, I think it kind of all fell apart when I took a nine on the par-five eighth hole. Probably the only reason I didn&apost have a 10 is because I got to drop the last one on the green! “But you know, it&aposs just all part of a learning experience and I&aposm happy to do it. There&aposs really not much more I can say!” Garrett will head to Sun City in South Africa next week to prepare for the Women&aposs World Cup of Golf where she is paired with Lindsay Wright before returning home for the 2008 MFS Women&aposs Australian Open at Kingston Heath Golf Club.