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Luke Elvy blog: Scott his chance at the big time

Scott Gardiner
Australia's Scott Gardiner.

How badly do want to achieve your dreams?

Are you prepared to toil for almost two decades, coming so close you can smell it before being cruelly denied not once but three times?

Scott Gardiner is and he’s testament to the old adage ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.’

His runner-up finish at the Web.Com Tour’s Albertson’s Boise Open on the weekend moved him up to 9th on that Tour's money list.

The $212,710 he’s made this year will be enough to finish inside the Top 25, guaranteeing him that elusive PGA Tour card for 2013.

It’s the realisation of a career-long goal, which he says will be great for his family because the PGA Tour makes it easier to travel with kids.

But apart from potentially moving from Farmington, Arkansas to Florida, life will stay relatively normal.

Gardiner and wife Kristin have two children.

A 12 year-old daughter Tatum who he considers his own but is from his wife’s previous relationship and a four-year old boy called Kai. Plus they “also get health insurance which is a big deal in the States” however, getting the ticket is one thing he’s acutely aware he has to do to step up another level which is what he’s been trying to do all these years.

The 36 year-old was a prominent Amateur, representing Australia in the 2000 Eisenhower Trophy before cutting his teeth in the professional ranks but the United States was his calling and in 2005 Gardiner began first full season on the Secondary Tour.

His talent was such that this was considered just a stepping-stone; bigger things were to come but that’s not how it turned out. Solid play had him contending for his card on a number of occasions only to come up marginally short.

In 2007, he was 26th on the money list going into the final event but had an off week and finish 30th, the same spot he finished in ’09. The Top 25 get a card.

However, 2010 was the cruellest of them all. A costly double bogey late in the final round of the year saw him finish a measly $2,010 and one spot shy of the PGA Tour.

Incredibly, all those disappointments didn’t really bother him.

“I’ve never been to the PGA Tour so I didn’t really know what I was missing out on.” Gardiner said. “It’s great to know I’m going (to the PGA Tour) now, it’s been a long time coming!” he added, laughing.

The New South Welshman credits a few reasons why it’s finally worked out this year after eight attempts.

He worked hard on his strength & conditioning in the off-season with a mate who used to be the trainer for the Arkansas Razorbacks college football team, which has helped with his mobility, particularly in the hips.

He reconnected with mental coach Sean Lynch who helped him first make it in the States back in late 2004 and he’s got a better feel for his game now that he’s older and wiser.

“I’ve practised less this year than any other time in my career and I’ve got more confidence in my game. I’ve just wanted to apply myself to every shot, every week. I want to walk of the course knowing I couldn’t have done any more.”

Gardiner almost won in Knoxville at the end of August and again in Boise last week and he’d dearly love to add to his sole Secondary Tour victory at the 2010 Chattanooga Classic before the season ends. However, finishing as high up the money list is the goal for the remaining six events.

“The celebration will happen when I step up to get my card at the presentation ceremony and when I tee it up at the Sony Open in Hawaii next January!” he added.

While that will be a great occasion for his family, it will be even more significant for his people.

Gardiner is an Indigenous Australian and is believed to be the first Aboriginal to play on the PGA Tour.

“All Mum’s family are Aboriginal and I know its pretty inspiring for them.” Gardiner, who was born to a Scottish, father admitted.

Its something he’s proud of and is also aware of the impact it can have on his community.

“If I can be a role model for all the young people and if I can raise the profile of golf amongst Aboriginal kids, show them that with hard work you can get to where you want, then that’d be great. Being Aboriginal has helped me a lot in my career.”

Gardiner was the beneficiary of scholarship dollars from the National Aboriginal Sports Corporation Association (NASCA) during his developmental years with the AIS. He also credits one of the men at the forefront of NASCA, former Rugby League player David Liddiard for helping him get to where he is now.

However, it’s important to note, since arriving in the US he’s had to work out life on Tour for himself.

It may have taken him longer than others but the rewards, which are now coming his way are through sheer hard work and whatever success the ‘Big Show’ brings him and his family is just deserts.

“My (extended) family is pretty excited about going to Hawaii. My dad’s been talking to me about it all year. I’ll have to get extra tickets!” he said.

Gardiner understands life on the most lucrative Tour in golf is ultra-competitive and he won’t take it for granted. He couldn’t possibly, not after what he’s been through.

“A lot of people have said I’m better suited to the PGA Tour because of my ball striking so I’m excited about what next year can bring but I know I’ve got to work as hard as ever.”

Luke Elvy recently returned from the United States covering the PGA Tour. He will host the Australian PGA Championship coverage for ONE HD in December and writes exclusively for Golf Australia. His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. Follow him on Twitter - @elvisgolf

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