Queenslander Aaron Pike has turned to a former world No.1 to help further his career resurrection; he just also happens to be one of his best mates.
With conditional status on the PGA TOUR Series-China tour, Pike commences his season at this week’s Beijing Championship at Topwin Golf and Country Club with the advice and lessons from a week-long training camp with Jason Day still fresh in his mind.
Pike is one of eight Australians in the third event of the 2019 schedule with Max McCardle, Kevin Yuan, Corey Hale, Tim Stewart, Christopher Wood, Aaron Wilkin, Hayden Webb and Kiwis Luke Toomey, Sam An and Ryan Chisnall also teeing it up from Thursday.
As a 21-year-old amateur, Pike shot to prominence by taking the first-round lead at the 2006 Australian Masters and starting the final round trailing Englishman Justin Rose by just two shots.
But it took a further 12 years before Pike would record his first professional win, last October’s Victorian PGA Championship at RACV Cape Schanck on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
Back injuries and an obsession with the technical aspects of the swing both conspired against Pike but two weeks shadowing his great mate Day in April has convinced the now 34-year-old that the second phase of his career will be more productive.
Highlighted by his breakthrough win, Pike played strongly over the summer to finish the 2018 season in 27th position on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit and sought out Day to help take his game to the next level.
“He just always let me know that the option was there if I wanted it,” Pike said of the week he spent at Day’s house in the lead-up to The Masters.
“He’ll never force you to do something but if you’re willing to put in the effort to attempt to do something with him he will make the time.
“If you show initiative he’ll make the time. I’ve been over there five times in the past 18 months, not so much to train with him but this year we’re doing a hell of a lot more.
“He had been at me for a while to come and do some stuff with him and I got off my bum and went over there and did it.
“He’s obviously a pretty bloody good golfer and I wanted to step it up and train a lot harder, train more efficiently.
“I was basically just mirroring everything he does, how he works, his effort, all that kind of stuff.”
Pike, who caddied for Dimi Papadatos in last week’s Volvo China Open, admitted that above all else that there was one takeaway from his time with Day that he will keep front of mind moving forward.
“The most prominent thing that I figured out – and I figured it out very quickly – was that he did work on things technically but he works more on hitting golf shots than he did anything else,” Pike explained.
“I’ve probably tried to train technically too much rather than training myself to hit really good golf shots.
“I very much grew up just hitting shots and I got too bogged down by the technical side of things. My coach Martin Gould has been at me for quite a long time for that.
“With the forced layoff with the back problems and then coming back in 2018 I found myself enjoying playing golf again.
“I had a decent year, had my first win on tour, and that arose immediately in my eyes not because I came back a better player but because I went back to my old ways and came back reinvigorated.”
With the PGA TOUR Series-China schedule still yet to be formulated fully, Pike will return to the US after the Beijing Championship to attend first stage of US Open qualifying and spend more time with Day.
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