Defending ISPS HANDA Vic Open champion Simon Hawkes is prepared for his title defence in 2019 after a breakout year on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
Returning to 13th Beach Golf Links for the first time since winning the event in 2018, Hawkes says his winning moment on the 18th green is engraved in his memory.
“I actually haven’t been back on-site since that day and it’s bringing back a lot of really good memories,” says Hawkes.
“That last putt definitely is one I can recall quite vividly.”
After playing a practice round on the creek course on Sunday, Hawkes is excited to get back into the season but insists there are no nerves lingering ahead of the event.
“It’s just another good opportunity to play a really good quality golf tournament,” added Hawkes.
“The only thing I see is that I’m the only guy in the field that can go back-to-back. I really have no expectations.
“I’d like to play all four rounds... but I’m a bit of a different golfer than I was 12 months ago,” continued Hawkes, who struggled with a facet joint injury last year.
“It was good to actually have Christmas break to sit down on the couch and not swing a golf club and just let those heal but I’m fighting fit now.”
Hawkes’ win at the Vic Open launched his season in 2018, providing him the opportunity to play at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth and a number of other events locally on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and overseas.
Crediting the victory, Hawkes believes a win at such an event can be the start any golfer needs to boost their career.
“It gives you the confidence and the affirmation that you’re doing all of the right things,” he said.
“I’d be a good example of there being so many good players out here that are one week away from taking their careers to the next level.
“I hope I can show a lot of guys who are playing on the pro-am circuit or just kind of struggling away what is possible,
“18 months prior to my win I was going to throw it all in so... if you keep putting the work in ... you just give yourself an opportunity like that and sometimes things can just fall your way.”
Finishing 8th on the ISPS HANDA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit has also opened further doors for Hawkes.
“There’s quite a lot of great things about the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, they’re opening a lot of pathways for players to tours around the world,” added Hawkes, who will tee it up in the Alfred Dunhill Links on the European Tour as a benefit of his high performing season.
“If it’s anything like last year I’ll get a few starts in China and a few starts on the Asian Tour and of course playing at St Andrews in a professional golf tournament has definitely been a dream of mine.”
Having supported Hawkes in his dream, his parents will make the trip over from Tasmania to watch their son play professionally for the first time, making his title defence just a little more special.
“I think the last time they would have seen me play was when I was a 16 year old junior,” Hawkes said.
“They used to take me to all of the junior tournaments like a lot of parents around Australia do to help their kids develop their golf games.
“It’s really nice for them to come and see the fruits of their work really and all the sacrifices they made when I was growing up, it’s kind of good to show them that it’s all kind of paid off.”
The ISPS HANDA Vic Open tees off on Thursday 7 February at 13th Beach Golf Links, Barwon Heads.
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