24 Oct 2020 | Professional golf |

Pike chases home state triumph

by Contributor

Aaron Pike image
Aaron Pike on his way to the top of the leaderboard today. Photo: Taylah Somerville

From PGA Tour of Australasia Media

Local product Aaron Pike will lean on the teachings of renowned performance psychologist Phil Jauncey after joining Nathan Barbieri at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round of the Tailor-made Building Services NT PGA Championship. Pike’s second round of five under 66 was the best on Saturday and vaulted him to the top to join the New South Wales amateur at eight under par, one shot clear of European Tour player Deyen Lawson with Australian Amateur champion Jed Morgan and former US PGA Tour player Michael Sim both at six under. Sim is actually spending the week staying in the Pike family home that sits adjacent to the 11th hole at Palmerston Golf and Country Club, the course where Pike learned the game before moving to Queensland in 2003. Victory on Sunday would be considered very much a home-town triumph but the 34-year-old hopes that the work he has been undertaking on his mental approach will prevent him from getting caught up in the emotions around a win on the course where he played his junior golf. In addition to working with Warren Kennaugh, Pike sought out Jauncey at the start of the year, Jauncey’s client base featuring the Australian cricket team and Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney NRL teams. It’s an area of his game Pike says has been deficient in the past but one he feels better equipped to deal with on Sunday. “Warren helps me immensely with my practice and Phil is more around how we get the best out of the situation that we’re in,” said Pike. “Those two guys have helped me a lot and coming to play events like this, that’s where I can test it and see what works for me. I’ve taken the opportunity to really work on the mental side of things which is something that I have always thought has been a big problem of mine. “I wouldn’t be in this situation if I hadn’t already put that stuff into practice. Phil’s a little different and a little left-field which I feel that I am. How he approaches his philosophies was something that I was really taken by.” Using local knowledge to scramble pars and rattle off four birdies in his closing six holes on Saturday, Pike enters the final round having shot 67 in last Sunday’s Palmerston club comp. His 35 stableford points wasn’t enough to win a week ago but the 2018 Victorian PGA champion insists being the local favourite won’t enter into his thinking until the completion of 18 holes on Sunday. “It doesn’t mean more or less in all honesty. A hundred and seventy five metres at Palmerston Golf Club is the same as 175m at Royal St George’s,” said Pike, who was denied a maiden Open Championship appearance this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m not the type of person who feels that difference just because of where it is. “Unfortunately that mantra just can’t come into it. It’s just another shot. That’s something that I’ve really had to come to grips with and work on a hell of a lot. Not letting things get to me, keep working and going to the next shot, worrying only about what do we do next. When everything goes down on Sunday, then I’ll know.” Runner-up at the Keperra Bowl a week ago, Jed Morgan was left to rue three misses from inside 10 feet on his back nine on Saturday to sit two shots back with a round to play. Despite the deficit, Morgan is planning on applying early pressure on the front-runners with an aggressive mindset. “Being out in front is a different experience because you have to keep pushing if you want to stay in the lead,” said Morgan. "Coming from behind is good for some people because they just feel like they’re chasing and it helps their focus. “I feel like I’m a person who needs to push regardless of the situation. I think anyone needs to do that, whether you’re a few shots back or a couple in front, always push and push and push. Both Nathan and Aaron could bring it back to the field because you can make some doubles around here. “You’re going to have to play good and take your chances when you get them but I don’t know if it’s going to take anything silly.” As a recent recipient of a Sport of Australia Hall of Fame scholarship, Morgan now boasts Ricky Ponting as a mentor but is not expecting any words of wisdom from the Australian cricket legend prior to Sunday’s final round. “It will be a surprise if he does,” Morgan admitted. “I can’t imagine he’s looking at the Northern Territory PGA scores but if he knew I was playing he might have a look. “It would be an awesome feeling if he texted me tonight and wished me luck for tomorrow. He’s probably got bigger things to worry about, even though he does love his golf.” Leading scores after Round 2

134: Aaron Pike, Nathan Barbieri (a) 135: Deyen Lawson 136: Jediah Morgan (a), Michael Sim 137: Justin Warren 139: Bradley Doherty, Jake Hughes (a), Jack Thompson (a)

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