02 Mar 2022 | Professional golf |
How TPS Sydney set Dobbelaar for pro leap
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
Queensland’s Louis Dobbelaar has set his sights on a breakthrough professional victory after a whirlwind 12 months that he traces back to his top-five finish at TPS Sydney a year ago.
Added to the Golf Australia Rookie Squad on Tuesday, Dobbelaar will begin Thursday’s opening round at Bonnie Doon Golf Club buoyed by the confidence that he took from his tie for third as an amateur 12 months ago.
Since that result he has secured a card on the PGA TOUR-Latinoamerica, turned professional, finished third at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland and Queensland PGA Championship and was invited to mix it with the game’s very best at the Saudi International.
His current position of fifth on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit – and the rewards a top-three finish will bring – is also influencing his 2022 schedule but a maiden professional title remains his No.1 priority.
Although he fell just short of his goal of winning an Australasian Tour event as an amateur, Dobbelaar insists putting himself in contention at Bonnie Doon a year ago proved that he was ready to compete.
“Playing well here last year was a huge stepping stone for me, to know that I could compete on the Australasian Tour,” Dobbelaar said on the eve of the 2022 TPS Sydney presented by Webex by Cisco.
“I took a big hit of confidence off it, that’s for sure.
“I had a few nice results early last year that maybe was trending to try and take a leap but I still had a lot of things that I wanted to try and achieve and tick off before I turned.
“Whether it was to win or just contend, that was something that you want to feel before you do it.
“I played the Aussie Open with Ryan Fox and Abe Ancer. I made the weekend, had a shocking final round and they said, ‘It’s much better you’re doing this as an amateur than as a pro.’
“It was pretty harsh but it was true. You want to learn those skills that are going to benefit you when you do turn.
“The things that I have learnt have been helpful for that.”
Admitting that what he and good friend Jed Morgan have achieved in a short space of time is the realisation of dreams they once discussed as juniors, Dobbelaar is taking little time to reflect.
The 20-year-old remains focused on what lies ahead which includes events in New South Wales the next three weeks, a return to the Latinoamerica Tour before rejoining the Australasian Tour Order of Merit race in Western Australia.
There are a range of opportunities on offer for those who finish inside the top five at season’s end and as he sits less than $8,000 from third spot, Dobbelaar admits it will play a role in where he plays in the coming months.
“The perks from the Aussie Order of Merit have definitely made me reconsider the events that I play back here,” Dobbelaar added.
“The plan’s not always going to be the same. I didn’t think I’d be going to Latin America Q School and then got my card, missed a couple of cuts, came back here and did OK and there are just things that haven’t been planned for.
“It’s only when you look back that you think there’s been a lot that’s happened but I’m excited to see what’s ahead. I feel like I’m always learning little things to help me.
“It’s all been a work in progress. There have been a lot of things that I didn’t think I would have done at this stage and let’s hope that keeps happening. It’s all exciting and just see what unfolds.”
Dobbelaar, Morgan and Grace Kim are the latest additions to the Golf Australia Rookie Squad, a program that provides financial support to young players seeking to make their way in professional golf.
Dobbelaar has already banked some handy cheques since turning professional but says the Rookie Squad inclusion will help to relieve some of the financial burden so common in young careers.
“It’s honestly huge to be able to play with a bit of freedom, not so much worrying about how many dollars you’re making,” Dobbelaar said.
“Early on it’s pretty critical, especially at the moment where getting around is quite expensive. Just means that I’ll have the support of a caddie so I can try and make as much as I can.
“I’m very fortunate to have the support. It’s definitely one element that’s nice not to have to worry about too much.”
TPS Sydney Hosted by Braith Anasta and presented by Webex by Cisco tees off at Bonnie Doon Golf Club at 7.30am on Thursday morning. Entry for spectators is free and the final two rounds will be broadcast on Fox Sports and Kayo on Saturday from 12.30pm and Sunday from 12pm.
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