Date: November 28, 2006
Author: Alistair Hogg

Pike re-lives Masters journey

By Alistair Hogg Amateur Aaron Pike is taking it all in his stride after finishing equal-fourth in the 2006 Australian MasterCard Masters at Huntingdale. The 21-year-old led throughout the opening two rounds before succumbing to a challenge from eventual winner Justin Rose. He finished on nine-under for the tournament, three strokes behind the Englishman. “It was exciting,” Pike said with a laugh. “There was a lot of experience to be had.” Pike set the pace early shooting a superb eight under in the first round. “There was never any pressure on me (before the opening round),” he said. “I just went out there and went about my business.” “The time I felt like I had the most pressure was going in to the second round. I didn t want to card a bad score after playing so well the previous day.” Pike maintained his form on day two, shooting a three-under 69 and maintaining his overnight lead. But a foreign charge led by Rose and France&aposs Raphael Jacquelin preceded a final round loss of focus by Pike. After a birdie on the second hole Pike had consecutive bogeys at four and five but kept himself in the hunt with an eagle on the par-five 14th. “It was very exciting,” Pike said. “It was a timely eagle. I needed to do something because Justin Rose looked like he was going to win convincingly. I was just trying to get the ball on my green to get a putt at an eagle. I wasn&apost expecting anything extraordinary. I just wanted to give myself a chance.” Give himself a chance he did, but a meltdown over the final holes cost the rookie a chance to claim a memorable victory. Bogeys on 17 and 18 dropped Pike down the leader board in to a share of fourth which was still an amazing achievement for the Queenslander. “I was disappointed with my last three holes. I was disappointed with how I finished the tournament off because I&aposm a better player than that,” he said. “I never thought at any stage I was going to buckle under the pressure. I didn&apost feel like I was in any sort of pressure playing the last few holes. Justin had all the pressure on him and I was setting the pace. Unfortunately I didn&apost set the pace good enough.” The amateur said that despite his own frustration, his friends and family were thrilled with the result. “I was the most disappointed one out of all the Pikes and the support crew. They were all going on about how good the result as and I was most angry because I didn t win.” “But it was awesome playing in such a big tournament with such exposure and also playing so well in such a big tournament,” he said. “Now I can go back and work on a few things and now I know I can play good enough with those guys. Now I need to do it on a consistent basis.” The 21-year-old&aposs next assignment comes in December with the Dunes Medal to be contested on Victoria&aposs Mornington Peninsula. It will be a starting point for Pike as he decides to keep his amateur status and set out to achieve his short-term goal of playing for Australia. “I don&apost have any plans to turn professional. Maybe after a year at the earliest,” he said. “I have just started the amateur season with the national squad and hopefully I can put in a good season and represent my country.”