Date: July 01, 2013
Author: OneAsia

Guyatt relishing second half of year

When a teenaged Matthew Guyatt was overlooked for his state age-group cricket team in 1990, he “spat the dummy”, to use the Australian vernacular, vowing never to play the game again and turning to golf instead. Cricket&aposs loss was golf&aposs gain as the talented 14-year-old went from complete novice to two handicapper in under three years, later gaining state honours for Queensland before turning professional after securing his PGA Tour of Australasia card in 1999 at the first attempt. Things haven&apost always been as easy since, but Guyatt&aposs natural talent and work ethic — as well as his strong Christian faith — have seen him reach the point where he is on the verge of taking his game to the next level. Currently in Britain in an attempt to qualify for this month&aposs Open Championship during the OneAsia season hiatus, Guyatt, 37, is a highly competitive athlete and a self-confessed sports nut. “I only started playing golf when I didn&apost get picked in a state cricket team,” he said. “I thought I should have been in the team and when I didn&apost get picked, I spat the dummy. I said &aposI&aposm going to play a sport where if I shoot good enough scores, I have to be picked in teams&apos.” Guyatt, who has a twin and two older brothers, never had any doubt he wanted to be a professional. “I always wanted to play sport for a living — it didn&apost matter which sport — and so I really started out with that mindset,” he said. “I went to Aussie Q-School in 1999 and got through, but after one year on tour I missed keeping my card the next year missed Q-School by a shot.” The setback proved to be life-changing for the articulate Guyatt, who had met his wife-to-be (Rachel) through a church he attended and was looking for some stability. “I gave golf away temporarily and went and got a job to try and earn some money,” he said. “I was working in a gym, selling memberships. “I only hoped to do that for a year, but things changed. I had met my wife the first year on tour, and fell in love, so I didn&apost go back.” Married in 2001, Guyatt next tried his hand as an assistant to a chiropractor, and on the side he played AFL in Queensland, making up for his lack of height with super fitness and fetching skills. “I had a pretty good team and I can run all day,” he said. “I really loved it loved the team environment and the fitness.” He drifted so far from golf that he regained his amateur status in 2003 and hardly touched his clubs for several years, but at the end of 2005 he realised he had reached another crossroads. “I had gone as far as I could at football and I either had to formally start studying chiropracting or opt back to golf,” he said. Golf won again. This time Guyatt took to the profession more formally, signing up for the PGA of Australia&aposs training course and learning everything from coaching to business management from his base at Indooroopilly Golf Club. In the process he was also named Trainee of the Year twice in three years. In 2010 a fortuitous meeting with a benefactor who prefers to stay out of the limelight put him back on the path to tournament golf. “I played a pro-am with a guy who said I was too good to be working in the shop, and he has helped me out since,” said Guyatt, who has two boys and a girl. “It gave me a real opportunity.” Guyatt regained his Australian tour card and then also earned a place on the Japan Tour for 2011 via Q-School. He scored his breakthrough professional victory at the New South Wales PGA Championship later that year. He hit the headlines at the Australian Masters last year after leading for two-and-a-half rounds against international stars such as Ian Poulter, and Major winners Adam Scott and Graeme McDowell before drifting to joint 10th. “To be in the spotlight and hear people calling your name from the crowds when they don&apost even know you, that&aposs something else,” he said. “To experience what its like leading a big tournament — in the last group on Saturday, and second last on Sunday it was amazing.” Guyatt has set his sights on a strong second half of the OneAsia season when the tour resumes at the High1 Charity Resort Open in Korea at the end of August. “The drive to succeed is even stronger now,” he said, crediting coach Kevin Healey for the improvement in his game. “I&aposm hitting shots now that I could never hit 12 months ago, before I started with Kev, being able to flight the ball, to hit balls to flags I never was able to hit them to before.” He has also been working on his mental approach to the game with psychologist Dr Karl Morris — particularly his putting. “If I look hard at my game, my putting has let me down recently but I am positive about the future,” he said. “I am working on visualisation, getting my brain to see the putt and work in synchronisation with the putter rather than thinking about the technique of the stroke. I really feel there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Although a team sports nut, Guyatt says his faith means he never feels alone despite golf&aposs individual nature. “You don&apost have anyone to help you if you&aposre having a tough time, but you don&apost have anyone to blame either,” he said. “But being a strong Christian, I never feel as if I am alone out there or anywhere in the work. I have my faith. It is a huge part of my life and makes the travel and a tough day on the golf course a lot easier.”