Date: November 21, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Millar tops mountain of Masters stories

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Six different players led the Australian Masters during a rollercoaster third round at Huntingdale today.

And when the ride stopped, Canberra’s Matt Millar was in pole position for tomorrow’s finale.

The affable Millar (-7), 39, arguably the Australasian PGA Tour’s most consistent performer this year, deserves all the plaudits he’ll get in media around the country in the next 48 hours.

But after a day of incredible fluidity on the leaderboard, the competing stories around Millar were everywhere.

The final group of Adam Scott (77) and Peter Wilson (80) combined to finish 15 over par, leaving the dual champion five shots off the pace and the Victorian out of contention completely.

Only eight men broke par in tough conditions – and one of those was Peter Senior (-5), a 56-year-old who has won the event twice, but not in 20 years.

Another of those was Michael Sim (-5), a one-time prodigy remarkably without official status on any tour other than his domestic base.

Ahead of them was a part-time Bexley Park club pro Andrew Evans (-6), who remarkably has had several swing lessons from Millar in recent weeks and pre-qualified to make the event on Monday.

And that’s not to mention Queenslanders John Senden or Matty Guyatt, both of whom landed on -5 after sharing the lead today and would make great stories should they salute.

But it’s Millar, who plays down his role as coach or mentor to more than a handful of mates in the field, they must all run down.

The Canberran has been ultra-consistent this year, with a remarkable eight top-10 finishes in 10 tour starts in 2015, including victory at the NZ PGA Championship in March.

“It's been a great year … I’ve had a victory and a number of seconds. But the big goal was to come into these three (Triple Crown tournaments) and try to win one,” Millar said.

“I always thought (the Masters) would be my best chance.”

And all this after losing his PGA Tour card in 2014.

“It was a big kick in the pants last year after losing the card for the first time in a long time, probably since about '02 or '03.

“I've been doing a lot of teaching over the last three months over at Gold Creek Country Club in Canberra.

“I don't think I found the right balance there last year and tried to do too much.

“So a big thing this year was getting back to doing a lot of playing, and with that, just a few personal things … and get the self-belief.

“It's been great.  I've found that.  The win obviously helped but I think the three weeks prior to the win was equally as important, and that's given me the self-belief.”

Millar half-joked he’d lie awake tonight thinking about the cheque, but then left no doubt what the traditional gold jacket would mean to him.

“I won't get a better opportunity to win an Australian Masters I don't think,” he said.

“Everyone growing up dreams of winning a (US Masters) green jacket with all their putting comps to win that.

“But in terms of Australian golf for me, I've grown up watching it here at Huntingdale and listening to Jack (Newton) and Sandy (Roberts) doing their thing (in commentary.

“I’ve watched a lot of past champions and played with them and now played against them.

“And to me, not selling the Australian Open short at all, another great event, but there's something about playing in Melbourne, playing in front of these crowds, playing these wonderful golf courses.

“Yeah, it would mean a hell of a lot.”