12 Jan 2023 | Amateur golf |
All Abilities star relishes #AusAm opportunity
by Martin Blake
Cameron Pollard literally took the long road to the Australian Amateur for his first appearance in an open national championship, but it was worth the effort.
Pollard, one of the world’s best All Abilities players, found out late on Monday that another player had dropped out of the men’s field, and that as an alternate, he was playing in Sydney.
He grabbed a couple of hours of sleep, then he and his mate Josh Lewis from Sawtell Golf Club near Coffs Harbour jumped in a car at 4am on Tuesday, took the six-hour drive, landed at St Michael’s Golf Club and prepared to play. Lewis, similarly bleary-eyed, was on the bag.
Pollard shot 81 at St Michael’s, but his fatigue caused at least one issue. Having hit off the 10th tee, he discovered a few holes in that he was using the wrong part of his yardage book.
“I was looking at the book and I thought ‘why isn’t there a bunker here?’ Two holes later, I realized I was looking at the wrong nine. It wasn’t great, but I finally figured it out.”
At New South Wales on Wednesday he shot 76, and he left with one or two regrets after posting a nine on the par-5 18th hole, where he had issues in a fairway bunker and compounded it by three-putting.
“That’s 76 with a triple and a quad (bogey),” he said. “That’s golf.”
Pollard, 23, has managed autism and Eblers Danlos Syndrome, a disorder that impacts connective tissues —skin, joints and blood vessel walls – for his whole life. Golf has been his passion, and he is now ranked in the top 20 in the world having been part of the group of players who competed on the same stage as the professionals in the Australian All Abilities Championship in Melbourne at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open.
This week has been another career highlight. While a handful of All Abilities players have qualified for open competition over recent years, they are rare. In this case, Pollard’s Golf Australia handicap of plus 0.1 got him into the field once a spot opened up.
“I wasn’t really expecting to get a call,” he said. “I was just waiting. I got it at 7pm on Monday. The tee-time was 2.03 on Tuesday. We jumped in the car at 4.30 on Tuesday morning and drove down.
“Definitely wasn’t going to say no! It’s It’s a privilege to be one of the few All Abilities players to ever play the Aussie Amateur.”
Reflecting on the experience, Pollard noted his forced lack of preparation as an issue. “It’s hard to play when it’s sight unseen,” he said. “If you ‘are on a reserve list, that’s all you’ve got. I’m just happy to be here, and going forward hopefully it helps my game playing in the biggest amateur tournament in Australia.”
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