Date: December 10, 2008
Author: Steve Orme, Sportal

Nitties riding high

US PGA Tour graduate James Nitties has described his week at the cut throat final stage of Q-school as the longest of his life. Nitties finished in a share of second spot to comfortably secure full playing privileges on the world&aposs richest tour in 2009 behind eventual winner Harrison Frazar. The Novocastrian, who fired a second-round of 63 to grab the lead after two rounds in the gruelling six-day event, arrived in Sydney on Wednesday morning less than 24 hours after securing his card to prepare for the Australian Open starting on Thursday. Showing no ill-effects from his whirlwind adventure, the 26-year-old was happy to recall his fruitful week before heading out for his first round on the difficult Royal Sydney layout. “I was going into the week playing really well and my preparation was great and I knew I was playing good but you never expect to finish the week on the PGA Tour, you never think I&aposm playing that good I&aposm going to get my card,” an elated Nitties recalled. “After the first round I had a good round and played well, and in the second I was six or seven under through 13 holes and I was thinking I was going to be top 25 at least – then I birdied the last two (holes) and I was leading.” “From then on it became really tough because in my mind I was (thinking) you&aposre leading, it would be bad to miss your card instead of just finishing on the Nationwide Tour.” “It was the longest week and every night was the longest night.” Having burst on the scene at the 2004 Australian PGA Championship where he finished runner-up to Peter Lonard, Nitties has spent the past two seasons on the unforgiving third-tier Hooters Tour in America after overcoming his battle with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis which threatened to derail his career. “It&aposs a tough road and I&aposm not going to use it as an excuse and I would never change it for the world because it really hardens you as a golfer,” he said of his struggle to establish himself. “You go out there and there&aposs no crowds and there&aposs no feeling out there, you&aposre literally playing to make money.” “It&aposs definitely hardened me because I&aposm never going to take the situation I&aposm in now for granted and I know how hard have to work to get there so it&aposs not like I&aposve just been thrown straight in (to the PGA tour).” And despite the fanfare surrounding his dramatic rise, Nitties is not getting carried away with his newfound status. “It&aposs a dream come true but I don&apost want to get complacent because I don&apost want to be another one of those guys that gets through Q-school and you never hear about them again,” he said. “A lot of people are celebrating but I&aposm just like don&apost get ahead of yourself, I&aposm ecstatic but I&aposve still got a lot of work ahead of me.” Meanwhile, Nitties, who finished in a share of fifth in last year&aposs Open at the Australian GC admits he has no idea what to expect this week on a layout he is unfamiliar with. “I don&apost know how I&aposm going to adjust actually, I could be riding on a high – after Q-school I&aposm sort of relaxing a little bit – so on the flip side I could play well,” he said. “My game is great and it&aposs going to be a fun week for me this week either way, always playing in all the big Aussie events was my favourite thing to do.”