When the PGA Tour of Australasia heads to New Caledonia for the South Pacific Golf Open Championship from 26 – 29 September, it will be the young Tour players looking to shine.
Matthew Griffin and Andrew Martin are two such players hoping to capitalise on the opportunities on offer at the South Pacific Golf Open Championship, the first event of the Tour’s end of year schedule.
In 2011, the tournament’s inaugural year on the PGA Tour of Australasia, it was rising star Matthew Griffin who claimed the title, his first as a Professional.
“It was nice to be part of a really exciting final day and to come away with a win in the event’s first year on Tour was really special,” said Griffin.
“It was a great relief after having a number of close shaves before getting the breakthrough win.”
Griffin believes his win at the 2011 South Pacific Golf Open Championship gave him the boost of confidence to win again, which he did last weekend in Korea at the High1 Resort Open on the OneAsia tour.
“Getting the first win under the belt took off a bit of pressure that builds the longer it takes to get over the line.”
“I do expect a lot of myself so I always have high expectations to perform well.”
“There’s a lot of pressure in those final few holes and to have done it once proves to yourself that you can do it again,” added Griffin who claimed his OneAsia title on the final two holes.
With a smaller field than other tournaments as well as a laid-back and tropical location, the South Pacific Golf Open Championship is the perfect setting for young players to make their mark on Tour.
“I can’t wait to get back to New Caledonia. Tina Golf Course is beautiful and it provides plenty of opportunities to score but will grab you if you make any sort of error,” said Griffin.
“I have always enjoyed playing golf on the islands and I think it has a lot to do with a relaxed atmosphere. It’s hard not to be relaxed given the spectacular views with plenty of holes right along the water.”
“The smaller field gives younger players a better chance to take home the title but the field looks to be quite strong, as it was last year, so I'm sure any player who wins is going to have to put together four rounds of quality golf.”
After a successful start to the 2012 PGA Tour of Australasia season, which included consecutive runner up finishes at the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship and the NZ PGA Pro-Am Championship, Andrew Martin is one such player looking for his breakthrough win at the South Pacific Golf Open Championship.
“It’s been a good start to the year for me with the results I have had so far, I guess based on these I’m on the verge of a breakthrough win and I feel it can come at the South Pacific Open given the good shape my game is in,” said Martin.
“To get that first win as a Professional would just mean the world to me. I won a lot as an amateur and to finally put my name up there as a PGA Tour of Australasia Tour winner would just be unbelievable.”
Having come so close early in the year, Martin has been working on his game to ensure he capitalises on his opportunities in the second half of the season.
“We have had very little to play in over the winter, so I'm hoping that with the time off I’ve had to refresh, and work I’ve done with my coach, Darren Cole, I can get that breakthrough win,” added the 28-year-old from Bendigo.
“I have more of a belief in myself that my hard work is definitely paying off. I can see some good results from the work I’m putting in and just need that one good week.”
“This is the first tournament of the summer, and as I'm currently second on the Order of Merit it’s a great opportunity to get some more money towards it. I'm going to miss the Masters due to US tour school so am looking forward to getting a four round tournament under my belt.”
Other Professionals looking for their first PGA Tour of Australasia victory at the South Pacific Open include New South Welshman Brent McCullough, 2011 PGA Trainee of the Year Paul Hayden and 2011 Qualifying School winner Daniel Popovic.
The winner of the South Pacific Golf Open Championship will earn a spot into the season's biggest tournaments; the Perth International, Australian Masters, BMW New Zealand Open, Emirates Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola, as well as Official World Golf Ranking points.