13 Jan 2020 | National Championships |

A year on, Barbieri targets #AusAm

by Martin Blake

Nathan Barbieri image
Nathan Barbieri was runner-up in Melbourne last year. Photo: Getty

Twelve months ago, Nathan Barbieri turned on the surprises.

He worked his game all the way into the final of the Australian Amateur Championship at Woodlands in Melbourne, and almost won, finally falling at the 37th hole to Conor Purcell of Ireland.

He'd been down in most of his matches, but what people noticed was how he fought to stay in contests. He looked to be a matchplay specialist.

A year on, Barbieri is 22 and there will be no surprises this week, even if he wins the #AusAm.

Barbieri, who is part of the Golf New South Wales elite programs, will be one of the favorites.

No longer the underdog, he is ranked 59th in the world making him the second-highest Australian behind American-based Karl Vilips, and the highest of his compatriots in the field for the amateur at Royal Queensland and Brisbane starting Tuesday.

He welcomes the attention.

“I’d love to back it up again this year," he said this week. "I don’t mind playing in Queensland either. I like Brisbane (GC), it’s a ball-striker’s course. It should be good around there.’’

Barbieri, who plays out of Monash Country Club in Sydney, says mental improvement is the key to his own upcurve. For this, he credits the work of sports psychologist John Novak, who works with the NSW squad and who more recently has achieved a modicum of fame as the cricketer David Warner's mind coach.

Novaks has worked with Barbieri on relaxing between shots; allowing himself some time to chill. "My headspace has got a lot better," said Barbieri. "I’ve definitely improved in the last 12 months and that’s been the biggest key in my game. It’s the little things, how to back up good rounds, stuff like that. It’s been better. It helps massively.''

Barbieri intends turning professional later this year, and will make a run at the Australasian tour school and possibly to Asia.

But first, he has business in Brisbane. The strokeplay section of the #AusAm starts tomorrow, with matchplay to come from Thursday. "(It's about) just getting into that matchplay and it’s a whole different game,'' he said. "But I’d like to position myself well, that’s for sure. Little things can turn a whole match around. I like that about it.''

More than 300 players from around the world are at Royal Queensland and Brisbane Golf Club this week trying to win the title that dates back to 1894.


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