19 Nov 2021 | Professional golf |
Smylie's unlikely starting point for summer assault
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
His goal is nothing short of ending the summer as the No.1 on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit but to do so one of the brightest prospects in Australian golf will commence his campaign in the tiny town of Barham.
Located on the New South Wales side of the Murray River, cluBarham Golf Resort will this weekend host the 36-hole Border Open Pro-Am, the 64th staging of the event and part of the adidas Pro-Am Series.
Not held in 2020 due to COVID, this year’s $25,000 Border Open has attracted a stellar field including the sensation of last summer, Elvis Smylie.
Tied for second at TPS Victoria whilst still an amateur, Smylie finished tied for third at TPS Sydney at Bonnie Doon and was runner-up again at the NSW Open to rise more than 1,000 spots on the Official World Golf Rankings in the space of five weeks.
That run of form led to invites to play on the European Tour but a back injury and the realities of managing your game on tour restricted Smylie to just three starts and three missed cuts in the space of five months.
Yet after flying into Sydney last Sunday and sharpening his game at The Lakes and Bonnie Doon, the 19-year-old revealed his lofty expectations for the summer ahead.
“My goal at the end of the day is to win the Order of Merit and get my European Tour card,” said Smylie.
“I’m going to do everything necessary to make that happen. And I know how capable I am of making that happen.
“I’m excited for these Pro-Ams coming up because that’ll gear me to getting into that competitive environment, putting a score together and making putts when they need to go in.”
Smylie’s intention is to return home to Queensland following the Cathedral Lodge pro-am and return to Melbourne for the Geoff Ogilvy-inspired Sandbelt Invitational from December 20.
His first PGA Tour of Australasia event will be the Australian PGA Championship starting January 13 with course designer Mike Clayton on the bag followed by the Queensland PGA, three Webex Players Series events and the New Zealand Open before returning to Europe.
“The plan is to play well enough in those events to secure the Order of Merit,” Smylie added.
“Then I’ll be able to go over in May, June and finish what I started.”
Despite playing just three events in the space of five months and having to withdraw from the ISPS HANDA World Invitational after sustaining a back injury hitting out of long rough, Smylie insists the experience will hold him in good stead.
Signed to Creative Arts Agency management prior to arriving in Europe, hopes were high that Smylie’s instant impact in Australia would transfer to the global scale, the reality he faced only strengthening his desire to make an impression at the highest level.
“I didn’t play the way I wanted but the experience that I had over there will be better for me moving forward,” said Smylie, who has been drawn alongside 2019 NT PGA champion Brett Rankin in Saturday’s opening round at Barham.
“It’ll help me become the golfer that I want to be in the next couple years because it’s not all smooth sailing. You’re not home and nothing’s real familiar. Everything is different.
“It’s about making the most of each situation and adjusting and adapting to climate and conditions, where you’re practicing each week when you’re not playing a tournament and how you’re going about being productive on a day-to-day basis.
“It was quite important for me to experience that early. Obviously I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a long time, and I got a glimpse of it, and yeah, it didn’t work out, but I know that when I go back over there I’ll be ready to attack it.”
As for the bulging disc that sidelined him for six weeks, Smylie says it continues to cause him some discomfort but hasn’t necessitated a body transformation, just some slight adjustments in his gym workouts.
“I’ve been working tremendously hard to get physically 100 per cent,” said Smylie.
“There’s still some tweaks and stuff, every now and then, but I’m more on top of it than I was before.
“I have put a little bit more muscle on but I don’t think you’ll ever see me get that big.
“I’ll still be the slender, slim guy on tour I reckon.”
The 64th Border Open Pro-Am tees off at 7.15am Saturday morning AEDT. The field includes Elvis Smylie, Bryden Macpherson, Marcus Fraser and Matthew Millar. Click here for live scores.
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