Date: September 20, 2016
Author: Dave Tease

New Caledonia suits Bautista to a tee

Reigning NSW Amateur Champion Austin Bautista is primed for a big effort in this week's South Pacific Open in New Caledonia.

Bautista bagged an invitation into the Aussie PGA Tour event in Noumea and is intent on making the most of the opportunity. The 19-year-old flew in early to familiarise himself and likes what he sees at the Tina Golf Club.

"The course is fun, it suits my eye off the tee. It's short though, so there's a lot of birdies out there," he smiled. "My game is sharp and I'm rolling it nicely. I'm looking forward to getting amongst it and putting myself in contention on the weekend."

The Bonnie Doon member has teed it up in several tour events now, including last year's Emirates Australian Open. He's gained plenty of experience from the opportunities however he still feels a little bit like the new kid on the block.

'It's definitely a different feeling playing in the pro events. Walking around the clubhouse being the up-and-comer is way different than what it feels like at amateur events," he said.

Bautista has just returned home after spending the last few months in the United States competing in a number of big tournaments and honing his game against some of the best amateurs in the world.

'I got to play some amazing courses. My game started to come together playing against the best. I learned a lot about good preparation. I totally feel my game has improved a lot."

It's his first visit to the French Territory and he's quick to admit his language skills aren't the best.

‘Yeah it's strange trying to get around ordering food when you don't speak the language. I usually just say steak and fries to the waiter. My French needs some improving for sure," Bautista laughed.