For Elvis Smylie, this is the week from heaven.
The Australian junior champion from Queensland is just 17, but he’s found himself in the field for the Emirates Australian Open at The Australian as a result of that national boys’ title at his home track Southport in April.
It is a priceless opportunity, and he knows it. “I’ve grown up watching this tournament, so to be able to be part of it and be part of this field is very special,” he said today after a practice round with past winner Greg Chalmers, Cameron Percy and Mathew Goggin, all veterans with a hint to pass on. “I can’t wait for the week to start and I’m full of confidence.”
The left-handed Smylie also played in the New South Wales Open with the professionals last week, making the cut and finishing tied-46th at four-under overall. Blessed with long levers and already bombing the ball off the tee, he clearly is one to watch.
“I didn’t have my A game last week, but I still competed fairly well,” he said.
Smylie, whose mother Liz won four Grand Slam tennis titles, has former touring pro and golf architect Mike Clayton on the bag as a result of a family friendship. Having only played The Australian once before, he also drew upon the intellectual property of Chalmers and company today.
“They’re full of knowledge,’’ he said. “I’m trying to get as much information from them as I can and use that towards my game. We only played nine, but walking around with them and seeing how they go about their business, I definitely picked up a couple of things.’’
Chalmers was impressed, and not just to see another left-hander in the field. “You know what? What’s great about it is it’s like a flashback,” said the Western Australian, who has won two national Opens. “It doesn’t feel like it but it’s 30 years ago for me. Personally, it keeps me young playing with kids like that but I’m excited for him for what’s in front of him. It’s an exciting journey if he continues on the track he’s on.
“He’s got a nice game. He’s got all the right people around him to be successful. Then it’s up to the guy holding the grip isn’t it. It’s all right in front of him and I’ll sit and watch like the rest of us.”
Smylie’s first memories of the Australian Open include Rory McIlroy’s tight win over Adam Scott in 2013, but he also knows the history; he also mentioned Aaron Baddeley’s win as an amateur in 1999. Now that would be quite something to match.
“I’ve set little goals that I want to achieve,’’ he said. “I don’t want to think ‘low amateur’ or ‘make the cut’. I just want to go as low as I can and use all the opportunities as well as I can, make heaps of putts and go as low as I can.’’