Tour Pro Matt Guyatt will blog about one of his favourite tournaments of the year; the South Pacific Open.
Matt Guyatt looking to go scuba diving
With round two complete here in beautiful New Caledonia it's
young Jake McLeod leading the way on a very impressive 12-under par. He is a
first year professional who I actually spent a little time with at this event
last year. He was an amateur back then and we played the first couple of days
together. I remember sending him a note after the tournament telling him how
much talent he had and that I thought he had a real future in the game......turns
out I may have been right! He leads the way into the weekend and it will be
exciting to see how he handles leading in a pro event for the first time. With
seasoned professionals Jason Norris and Matt Millar well poised to hunt him
down the pressure will be on!
For me the day was similar to yesterday. I had opportunities that I didn't take and when I did make some birdies I ended up giving them all back. My drive down the difficult 16th found the water and cost me a double and then drives just missing the 7th and 9th fairways on my back nine today ended up in horrible lies! That meant a disappointing bogey par bogey finish to my day and an even par round. It's been solid but unspectacular and that needs to change, overnight! Well I need to keep the solid play and add some more spectacular stuff too. A couple of eagles will certainly help the cause!
We have had more spectacular weather but for the first time I think I want a tough day tomorrow. Some strong wind would be awesome just to give me a chance with a low round making some big moves forward. I'm looking forward to spending the day with my coach and caddy this week Cameron continuing to work on my game together ahead of the Dunhill Links in a couple of weeks. I have unfinished business here first however and will be trying to go "scuba" deep over the next two days!
Matt Guyatt misses the birdie train in round 1
An overcast morning and no wind met the morning players in
round one, which is almost the first time we haven't seen blue skies since we
arrived here. The clouds however didn't last long and by my tee time around 12pm
they were long gone.
The course has been playing well, the greens faster than any other year I think but still holding your shots well, perfect really. I was paired with local legend Jean Louis Gueppy and Brad Shilton who is a past winner here. It was a somewhat slow-ish start for all of us and despite being a couple under par through seven holes I wasn't really playing awesome. The other boys were struggling a little too, Brad a little off from his usual excellent ball striking and JL was playing well but couldn't buy a putt to save himself. It was kind of a case of nobody going that well and so we were all being dragged down rather than dragged forwards.
The back-9 started in a similar way but then all of a sudden JL decided to go on a run making birdies on 12, 14,15 and the difficult 16th. Unfortunately I didn't get on board and despite Brad making one birdie in that time he too seemed to miss the birdie train JL was on. It was also a shame to see the local frenchman's birdie putt just miss on 17 before an unexplainable poor drive on 18 cost him a double bogey to finish at 1-over. My back-9 was solid making one birdie and one bogey to finish at 1-under for the day. It was a solid start to my week and despite not feeling awesome out there I was happy to sign the card and be in the clubhouse under par on day one.
I must say it was great to see so many kids out there today and the usual local support. The locals love this event and always get out and cheer us on. Let's hope the crowd numbers increase over the weekend and we can put on a good show. Before that, I have to get the job done tomorrow first. I look forward to getting out there in a hopefully quiet morning and getting a ticket to the train JL was on today on that back-9!
Pro-am fun in Paradise....
Pro-am day at the South Pacific Open was a magic day on this
island paradise! However, we were met by a westerly wind which is strange for
this course and one that was not liked by the group of ladies I was drawn to
play with! They were so used to the normal wind here and took some time to
settle in and figure out the new wind. Adding to those difficulties were some
rather challenging pro-am pin locations! They weren't designed to showcase good
golf that's for sure. I think on occasion I was looking for a windmill or a giant
swinging shoe, to complete the putt putt feel. I can only assume they were
trying to have some fun and maybe save the tournament pin locations for the
next four days. It certainly made for some tough putting for all of us!
But we had a cracking day and every emotion was on display throughout the round with my group of ladies. There were shouts of joy, some amazing pars, and some colourful French expressions. I have no idea what they said but I could grasp their situation and make my own assumptions. My feisty French house host for the week, Nadine was in fine form with her French expressions and when a putting tip I gave her saw her hole a massive putt on the next hole she was jumping up and down with joy! The highlight of the day had to be when Marie found the ocean to the left of the 16th hole. I found her ball in the sand being lapped by the water. To my dismay she calmly walked across the sand and straight into the water shoes and all, took aim and whacked it out of the water and back into the fairway. Not a care in the world that the water was ankle deep where she was standing! Priceless!!
For the record Steven Jeffress, the GOAT (greatest of all time) of pro-ams, and his team won today, with some ridiculous score, and in doing so confirmed his well known status as the best pro-am player in history! He will, no doubt, take that form into the tournament and I think will be a real threat this week.
As usual the presentations and welcome to the event was done in fine style by Patrick Koch and his team of sponsors. The clubhouse was full to overflowing again and it's great to look around and see old acquaintances catching up. This is the sixth year of this event and many of the guys feel like they have a home away from homes here! Everything is set up for another successful and exciting tournament.
My my tips for the week....I think I like the following guys in no particular order....Matty Millar, Jeffro, Michael Sim, Darren Beck and my roughy is Cory Crawford. I obviously would like to think I am a good chance too this week as I'm playing well. Last year I made the birdies but too many mistakes were made to really feature. Hopefully this year I can tighten that stuff up and get myself in the mix come Saturday afternoon!
Sunday, travel day....
What better way to start the week than by waking up on
Sunday morning to my three excited kids, jumping on the bed to celebrate my
gorgeous wife's birthday?! It was travel day, and I was headed to Tina Golf
Club in Noumea for the South Pacific Open, the next tournament on the schedule
for the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia. But before I actually travelled on
this particular Sunday there was lots to do. It was my wife's birthday which
needed celebrating first and foremost and a host of other activities before my
evening flight across to the island paradise of Noumea.
Most of my packing was done given the massive day that was planned, so at least my clubs and clothes were ready for the journey even if I wasn't. This time of year is hectic as a professional golfer on Tour so for me today was a special day. A day to spend with my family doing the things I love the most in life. We headed off to our church, something I miss so much on Tour, and we were greeted with a guest speaker. She was very talented and there were a number of key points that hit home for me in what she said. One of them was how close we hold to the gifts and talents we have in our lives. Do we hold on so tight for the fear of losing them, that they never truly get to be used for their full potential? I was encouraged to let go more and more and watch those gifts and talents truly blossom. That's my challenge as I head into this week's event and until the end of the season.
The start of this tournament week was particularly tough given I was leaving home on Rachy's birthday. I really wanted to stay and continue to enjoy what had been a cracking day of celebrations. But work is work so off to the international airport it was. Given the small number of flights heading to New Cal the lounge was loaded with players. I met up with my coach Cameron Strachan, who is heading overseas with me for the first time this week. He will double as my caddy and I can't wait to work together. It will be great to set the wheels in motion this week, working together before heading to the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland next week. Cameron has been instrumental in implementing some big changes in my game and we can't wait to see the fruits of all the hard work.
The downside of limited flights to New Cal is that this one was a night flight and with the time change it meant landing and getting through customs at around midnight. To go with that the plane hit probably the biggest turbulence I've experienced in a big plane for some time. It was a very sudden whack and serious altitude change, met with some squeals and tears from some passengers. I was asleep, despite it waking me and throwing my iPad out of my hands and into the air, I figured that it would settle soon enough. Despite the late arrival one of my very good mates here in New Cal drove out to the airport to pick us up, Kiki you are a legend my friend! That's what I love about this week; the locals here just love the week so much and love having the Aussie Tour in their backyard. They are so welcoming and my hosts for the week were there after 1am to open their house and show me inside. I showed Cameron to his room and announced to Nadine "It's good to be home!" as I threw my bags into my room. After a very brief hello it was time to hit the sack and get some sleep ahead of my practice round on Monday.
I was very quickly reminded of the beauty of this island paradise as I stretched my legs and made it outside for breakfast, admiring the gorgeous day and amazing scenery. What a spot Tina Golf Club is located at, surely prime land and location. After breakfast I headed up to the club to register and play a practice round. The main man for the week and a man responsible for so much over the years in getting this tournament to where it is today, Patrick Koch was floating around so it was great to see him and catch up. Patrick is a member at the same club as me on the Gold Coast too, but it is always great to see him over here working hard for the tournament and in his element.
My practice today was really good and the course is in great shape for the week. It may be the best I have seen it for a few years. The greens are rolling a little faster than usual and the addition of some new tee blocks have set the course up for what should be a great event. I think this course is a beauty. It has a little bit of everything and when you reach that back-9 and get to play holes 12 to 15 along, around and over the superb scenery of the Pacific Ocean, it's both breathtaking and exciting. The winner this week will get to admire that ocean from afar instead of retrieving balls from it or sending them to a watery grave. The back-9 holds the key to your score, as the risk versus reward holes will yet again close out a good round or shatter your dreams in a moment.
It's great to be back at Tina Golf Course and I can't wait for the week but before the tournament starts we have the all important pro-am. These days are so critical in our weeks. As professionals we get to entertain, coach and befriend a group of amateurs for the day. A lot of those people are closely tied to the event, whether they are sponsors large or small, player hosts for the week, club members or even just keen golf enthusiasts looking to have the experience of playing with a professional. For that reason I love these days, without these people I don't get to do what I love for a living and I try to give my all on these days. Pro-am day can still be a learning day for me on the course in preparation for the week but the number one priority is to give my group an experience that they will enjoy and talk about over the year ahead. Tomorrow I get to do that, and I can't wait.
Headlines at a glance
- Blyth hangs tough to win in New Caledonia 24.09.2016
- Blyth wins the South Pacific Open in a playoff 24.09.2016
- Fiji International continues to lure top players 24.09.2016
- Friendly showdown set for South Pacific Open 23.09.2016
- Who’s who at the Fiji International 23.09.2016
- Queensland duo win Howeston Pro-Am 23.09.2016
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