The 32-year-old Aussie opens up about the current glory of the game in his home country, the tournament at which he saved his card and why he looks up to the Big Easy.
At what point did you realize, Hey, I’m good enough to play professional golf?
When I had just come out of school. I was playing as an amateur with Greg Norman in the final round of the Australian Open. He’s an idol of mine. He’s a big part of the reason why I’m standing here today. Dealing with those pressures, seeing the best guys in the world play and knowing I was playing at their level, I thought there was a good possibility I’d be able to make a living at it. Not long after that, I turned pro and went on the [Australian-based pro-am] Troppo Tour .
What was that like?
It was a great time. We went from place to place, living out of the back of a car, whether it was in a tent or really cheap hostels. We played a new club every day. We met new people every day. We tried to beat each other’s brains in on the course every day. It could have been worse. [Laughs] It was great fun. That’s how 95% of the pro golfers in Australia start.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
I was on the Nationwide tour, I had just met my now wife, and I was about to lose my visa because I was in danger of losing my card. I had one more chance to keep it. We were in Mexico, and I needed to finish in the top 10. I shot 67-67 over the weekend to finish sixth. That’s allowed me to be where I am now.
Did you ever consider leaving the game and doing something else?
I always wanted to do something in golf. I tried a greenkeeping apprenticeship, but I wasn’t any good. My dad was in the homebuilding industry, but I was no good at that either. [Laughs] Golf was always something I loved to do. I always thought about it and I loved to practice and I loved the hard work and I loved that I could do it by myself at any time. From the moment I started playing at a high level, and competing against pros as an amateur, I knew I was going to be a golfer. This is it. Golf is all I got.
If you weren’t a golfer what do you think you’d be doing?
Oh, man, I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest. I enjoy math. I enjoy numbers. Golf’s a gamble. [Laughs] Maybe I’d be playing poker.
Jason Day. Adam Scott. Matt Jones. Steven Bowditch. Is this a big moment for Australian golf?
Yeah, it is. Australian golf has really taken off again since Adam won the Masters [in 2013]. He’s put the foot forward to try to get us all to the next level, and you’re seeing that now with Jason.
Is there anyone on Tour you would consider a role model?
I love watching Ernie Els. I love the way he handles himself on the course. He never seems to let things bother him. That’s the best way to go about it. I’ve always tried to model my attitude around the way he plays golf.