You’d expect Todd Sinnott to have an edge playing the Australian Masters on his home course.
And a quick look at the leaderboard would confirm that to most eyes – except those of the Golf Australia national squad member himself.
Sinnott, 22, stood tall amid big galleries, high-profile playing partners and a swarm of local well-wishers today to post a second-round 71 and leave the morning draw as the leader at six under after 36 holes.
But rather than munch the course the way he would in a midweek bash with his mates, coach and caddie Martin Joyce has Sinnott playing an entirely foreign course.
Or at least the method of playing the course he’s loved since he first set foot on it aged 15.
“It’s completely different (to) when I’m playing with my mates,” said Sinnott, who hits prodigious distances.
“It’s actually almost like trying to play the course backwards, figuring out the best distances to come at the pins from and trying to put the ball there rather than just blasting away off the tee.”
The huge crowd following Sinnott and US PGA Tour players Steve Bowditch and Boo Weekley didn’t faze him at all.
A part-time ball collector at a driving range in Essendon, he seemed in his element, particularly with the interaction with former touring pro Joyce, whose understanding of Sinnott’s game will be critical across the weekend.
“He’s really good. He knows my game … and gives me a lot of confidence,” Sinnott said after his round.
“He’s doing all the work (about plotting and yardages), so I just rock up to the ball and hit the shot without having to worry about anything, so it’s really good.”
Joyce was delighted with his charge’s composure and in awe of the ball-striking, even though they have worked together for more than seven years.
But even he doesn’t know how Sinnott will go in the weekend spotlight the Masters will shine on him.
“Time will tell. I’m not sure,” Joyce said with great honesty.
“But this is what he’s been practising his butt off to get to — where he is right now.
“He’s going to learn a lot of stuff over the weekend – hopefully all good, but it’s tournament golf and things happen.
“Either way we’ll have a good chat on Sunday night about things we can do better and go from there.”
Joyce said the plan to abandon Sinnott’s normal Metropolitan game was paying dividends.
“I like to think that he’s understanding his own game better and plotting his own way around the course,” Joyce said.
“He’s actually trying to rethink it a little bit — like it’s not your home course and play the game the way it should be played, particularly how far he hits it.
“It’s tough to club some of his stuff because he hits shots out there that are ridiculous (lengthwise).”
Sinnott faced the inevitable post-round questions about turning professional with a non-committal “some time in the next 10 months”.
Joyce explained that even at 22 and with some pundits questioning whether he’d left his run too late, there was no rush for Sinnott to make the transition.
“I can see where guys get caught out on that, but we’re going to make the (pro) decision when it’s time and everything around it is as it needs to be.
“But we’re heading in the right direction now, for sure.
“This is what he has worked his tail off for all his life.”
By: Mark Hayes (Golf Australia)