Lincoln Tighe is still proud of the fact he led the 2015 Australian Open after the first round, leaving in his wake a group of big guns including Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Matt Jones and current world No.2 Jordan Spieth.
But he reckons it’s now time he led a big tournament at the finish, not the start.
Tighe may be one of the lesser lights in the field for next week’s Isuzu Queensland Open at The Brisbane Golf Club, yet his background and personality makes him an intriguing contender. And he says the venue sets up nicely for his predilection for booming 300 metre drives.
The 27-year-old comes into the tournament – and this week’s WA Open – with a degree of wind in his sails. He has just returned from the US where he finished tied for 14th in the first stage of Web.com Tour Q School.
“That’s a real bonus, and it has given me confidence going into these tournaments back home,” he said.
“I finished 12-under to stay in contention for my card and hopefully I can carry that good form into these events. My game is in pretty good shape at the moment.”
But the words ‘good shape’ and Lincoln Tighe have not always been perfect partners.
As a youngster he was a self-confessed ‘fat kid’, yet he still managed to play off a handicap of three when he was 13. By 18 he had ballooned to 115 kilos, and it was then he says he arrived at the crossroads.
“I had to decide if I was going to keep traveling down the ‘big guy’ path, or get serious about making a career from golf,” he said.
“It was about the same time guys like Tiger Woods were starting to work out and thankfully I decided to take the tougher road. I made sacrifices, trimmed down, gained muscle and my game was the winner.”
Tighe keeps his weight to around 100 kilos these days because he doesn’t want to look like what most people regard as the archetypal golfer.
“Despite the fact a lot of professional golfers these days are fitter and stronger, I still think the stereotype is the big fella with a beer in his hand,” he said.
“I would rather stick at the weight I am now, maintain my routine in the gym and look like a Dragons (NRL) second rower. My body is used to it now.”
And Tighe says he has been able to maintain a perfect swing mix of strength and mobility.
“I find I can now cruise the 300 metre drives, whereas before I started doing weights I had to crush the ball to get it out there,” he said.
“And I love it. It’s my ‘thing’ away from golf and when I’m not playing tournaments I will work out every day and then practise.”
Tighe, who has undergone a minor rebuild of his game this year under new coach Richard Woodhouse, still looks back fondly at his 5-under round at the Australian Golf Club in 2015, to lead his national championship.
“Obviously it would have been ideal to hang on and win, but the thrill of that round, under those circumstances, is one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” he said.
“Had I been used to all the publicity and the attention, I might have performed better. But tied for fifth in that field remains a huge thrill.
“Now I crave that kind of success after four rounds, not one.”
And maybe that success will come next week, when Tighe tees it up at the Brisbane Golf Club in his sixth successive Isuzu Queensland Open, a course that he says suits his game.
“Brookwater wasn’t my course. I could only hit driver on one hole there,” he said.
“But Brisbane is more open and I can really give the driver a rip.”
The Isuzu Queensland Open will be played from 26-29 October 2017 at The Brisbane Golf Club. The Championship is a part of an action-packed Australian summer of golf and forms part of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia. For more information visit www.qldopen.com.au