Date: April 10, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Primed Goss calming crowd nerves

Oliver Goss is ready. Or more correctly, as ready you can be to play in the Masters as a 19-year-old amateur surrounded by the best players in the world and legends of the game at one of its most famous theatres. “It&aposs been amazing,&apos&apos he told from Augusta today. “Absolutely amazing. It&aposs incredible, you can&apost describe it too much. On Monday you walk out on the practice green and you see Gary Player and say hello. On Saturday I met Ben Crenshaw. You meet all these significant names who&aposve done so much for the game and it&aposs just &aposwow&apos. You meet so many amazing people.&apos&apos Goss knows he will be nervous tonight Australian time when the tournament begins; even in the practice rounds he was jittery. The Perth teenager has never played in front of so many people, thousands along every fairway and around each putting surface. He noticed the nerves it on the 16th hole in Tuesday&aposs practice round, the par-three where huge crowds gather to watch players deliberately skip their golf balls across the pond and on to the green. “There are some shots out there it&aposs hard to get comfortable with, like on 16 yesterday when they&aposre all shouting at you and booing you,&apos&apos he said. “There&aposs probably 10,000 people just on that hole. It&aposs about getting comfortable at this point.&apos&apos Ritchie Smith, his coach of the past four years, says Goss just has to ride out the butterflies in his belly. “We know he&aposs going to get nervous,&apos&apos said Smith. “He was nervous in the practice round. when you&aposve got between two and 10,000 people watching you all day, you&aposre going to get nervous. We&aposve just told him to slow it down and tick off everything. “He&aposs been meticulous with that and he&aposs achieved everything he has to do with his preparation, so it&aposs a matter of keeping nice and calm and remembering it&aposs just a game of golf. He has to be really wary of his eye control, make sure his eyes stay on the target and not spend too much time on the galleries in preparation for each shot. It&aposs not hard to do, but it&aposs really hard to do if that makes sense.&apos&apos Goss is a wunderkind, a tier one member of Golf Australia&aposs elite national squad. Playing out of Royal Fremantle Golf Club, he won the WA amateur title (in 2012), the same year he gave notice of his talent by winning the WA Open amongst the professionals at Royal Perth. It was his effort in reaching the final of the US Amateur championship last year that won a berth for him at Augusta this week. His advantage is length. “He&aposs extremely long,&apos&apos&apos said Smith. “He&aposd be almost the longest out there (this week), I&aposd think. But he&aposs got fantastic touch.&apos&apos As a scholarship-holder at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville he has won twice in collegiate competition, and he has a start in the US Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina later this year, also as a result of his US Amateur performance. After that, he needs to consider his future. Plainly he will turn professional at some point; it is a matter of when, or whether he will remain at university. “In the end we can recommend a course of action but it&aposs got to be his decision as to whether he turns pro or not,&apos&apos said Smith. On Wednesday morning Goss went off to play the par-three competition, as well as some practice on the tournament course, with his parents and grandparents along for the ride. He is becoming familiar with the venue, having driven down from Tennessee to play the course twice — last February and again in March this year. By the time he tees it up with Canada&aposs Graeme DeLaet and South Africa&aposs Trevor Immelman at 12.31pm tomorrow (2.31am Friday, AEST), he will have played about seven full rounds at Augusta National. “I know the course. I&aposve got a good game plan, it&aposs just getting comfortable out there.&apos&apos The course is famously good for right-to-left hitters, which suits Goss. But he can see that left-to-right shots are required as well. “It&aposs advantageous to play it both ways, to be honest. There&aposs obviously a couple of holes that demand a high draw, which is great, but there&aposs a couple of holes where a high fade is better, just to get into the correct part of the fairway. “It&aposs all about the second shot. Once you hit on to the green, if you&aposre not in the right place, it&aposs scary. It&aposs almost a guaranteed three-putt in some places. You have to leave yourself under the hole no matter what, even if it&aposs 30 foot under the hole instead of 10 foot above the hole.&apos&apos Goss is not about winning this week. It is about the experience. He turns 20 on Saturday, and hopes to have some golf to play that day. “I&aposd just like to have as much fun as I can, take it all in and enjoy the two days,&apos&apos he said. “I don&apost what it to go by too fast and I forget everything. I want to enjoy it, hopefully get to the weekend and be low amateur.&apos&apos