Chalmers welcomes Watson match-up

Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Greg Chalmers
Greg Chalmers

Greg Chalmers is relishing the chance to play alongside eight-time major winner Tom Watson as he aims to defend his title at this week's Australian Open.

The left-hander has been paired alongside Watson and youngster Jake Higginbottom for the first two days of the Open, which begins at the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney on Thursday.

It was his sensational win here 12 months ago – coupled with success at the Australian PGA a week later – that kick-started a memorable year for Chalmers.

While there were no wins on the US Tour this year, Chalmers did get the chance to play in major tournaments like the British Open and US PGA.

And it was at the Open Chalmers got the chance to play a practice round alongside Watson which had a prolonged effect on the 39-year-old.

Chalmers used the opportunity to pick the brain of the veteran American and will use that experience and knowledge gained to help him this week.

"I've only played nine majors and I had not played the British Open for 12 years so it was a great experience for me," Chalmers said on Tuesday.

"I played a practice round with Tom Watson. I wrote him a letter. There were some things this year that I had not done or it was a while since I had done them.

"I was shy when I was younger ... I did not have the guts to ask people questions. That was when I clued in the idea that I needed to talk to people.

"I spoke to Tom, I spoke to Nick Price this year, Paul Azinger. I'd love to chat to Greg Norman, too.

"I wanted to get into Tom's head a bit and find out if I was on the right path. The game comes very easily to some people. I think he (Watson) is one of them."

Asked what he learned out of his chat with Watson, Chalmers said it was just to keep things simple.

"It is a battle for me. If you can stand over the ball with one thought in your head, you are about 1000 steps in front of most guys," he said.

"Sometimes I wish I was a lot better at it, other times I am thankful I can process a few things.

"It's a strength of (Watson's). That why he has won eight majors and all those tournaments. It is something to aim for."

The only thing Chalmers is aiming for now though is getting his hands on the Stonehaven Cup for a third time, backing up from his sensational triumph in a star-studded field 12 months ago.

"It's very personal. When you win an event like this, you have your own small piece of that history," he said of what it means to win this event.

"Growing up in this country and watching it as a kid, you have it on a pedestal.

"There are the majors and then you want to win your nation's Open.

"Given the history we've had with so many great players coming from our country, you want your piece of that. I have two now. Last year was really special for me. I appreciated it more than the first time."

When asked if he feels any different or if there's more pressure being the defending champion, Chalmers said: "It is weird because you think you are the only guy who cares.

"I couldn't tell you any given week who the (previous) winner was. As a player in the field, it does not bother you.

"You really don't think about it. But it is important to me on a personal level. I would like to have a good defence of my title and I am trying to prepare like that.

"You get to do a lot of cool things like that I would not normally do. I told my wife this morning that I had my 'presser'. She said: 'You are an idiot'."

Chalmers and his playing partners will tee off in the afternoon groups, just after midday on Thursday, with the likes of Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, John Senden and world No.4 Justin Rose all playing in the morning.