Date: November 07, 2012
Author: Luke Elvy / Golf Australia

Luke Elvy blog: Is it young talent time?

Let s be honest, it s been a tough year for Australian golf. We ve had very few wins on the major tours around the world and it s not just a 2012 issue either: closing has become a problem over the past 3-5 years at all levels including our elite Amateurs. We saw it with Adam Scott in this year s Open Championship, how different would things be if he held on to win at Royal Lytham & St Annes? And impressive 18 year-old Oliver Goss had the chance to claim a spot at next years Masters if he won the Asia Pacific Amateur. Instead, we watched a watershed moment as 14 year-old prodigy Guan Tianlang from China ensured he ll be the youngest ever to play at Augusta National. Goss finished a credible third but it s the fourth straight podium for Australians in the four years of the event. Jordan Sherratt (3rd 2009) Tarquin McManus (2nd 2010) and Cameron Smith (3rd 2011). It’s a clich because it s true – success breeds success and according to Golf Australia s High Performance Director Brad James we need to breed a winning culture in Australian golf again. I rang James to discuss the joy of having five Australians in the top 10 at the Asia-Pacific Am and while happy with the results, he said, Going there, it s about the win. It’s a great outcome to have five guys in the top 10 but Oliver s win at the WA Open does a lot more for us than what happened in Thailand. Countries like Northern Ireland and South Africa have a winning culture and we ve been striving for that for the past 2-3 years. We are among the best golfing nations in the world and we need to get back to winning. Before getting into why we ve been struggling to close, its important to acknowledge the efforts of Goss (3rd), James McMillan (5th) plus Nathan Holman, Cameron Smith and Brett Drewitt who tied 7th. To have that many Australians in the mix is testament to the talent coming through and the high level of coaching. Our state programs are very good, all our high performance guys and national coaches are doing a great job. James added. The future of Australian golf has been a growing concern since Greg Norman scaled back his prolific career. At that stage, the generation he had inspired were winning often and all around the world. Nowadays it s just a handful of victories and left to one or two players to fly the flag. At 24, Jason Day is the only 20-something who appears capable of winning and even he struggled this year. Part of the issue is Australia s swing is the thing mentality where kids will hit balls at the range for hours to perfect their ball striking without giving much attention to the short game. But that s set to change with Golf Australia holding a camp for elite amateurs next week where the whole focus will be from 120m in. What the best pros call the red zone or the scoring zone. Oliver Goss averages 28.3 putts per round, which puts him around 75th on the PGA Tour and he’s our best putter by 2 shots! James said. Cameron Smith is considered one of our better putters and he averages 31.2. It’s an issue and we are going to rectify it. Part of the lack of success for Australia is the ever-growing depth of talent in the world of golf. Guan Tianlang s win is yet another sign that China and the Asia Pacific region is getting stronger by the day, it further enhances Greg Norman s thought East will dominate West within 20 years . It’s a different breed coming through, said James they have no fear and are complete players. Just have a look at the way Guan holed the winning putt, just banged it into the back of the cup. For the guy to get it done the way he did, to lead all four days, with the pressure of TV, it s huge. That up and down on the last hole alone was impressive but he hit class shots all week and his pre-shot routine is near perfect and he just turned 14! Aussie golf fans will get to see first hand just how good China s new sensation is when he and fellow 14 year-old Andy Zhang – who made international headlines in June when he became the youngest player to qualify for the US Open – tee it up at The Lakes for the Australian Open, December 3-6. It ll be a glimpse into the future and Tournament Director Trevor Herden even suggested he might pair one of them with 63 year-old Tom Watson. What a sight that d be: the oldest and youngest in the field paired together, almost 50 years between them. I wonder if Guan Tianlang will tell the 8-time major champion what he announced on Twitter soon after his incredible victory on the weekend, I want to win the US Masters at Augusta. Kids these days! Luke Elvy has spent time in the United States covering the PGA Tour. He will host the Australian PGA Championship coverage for ONE HD in December and writes exclusively for Golf Australia. His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. Follow him on Twitter – @elvisgolf