'Extend, don’t defend.'
That’s the motto Queensland’s Daniel Nisbet is carrying into this week’s Victorian PGA Championship at RACV Cape Schanck Resort on the Mornington Peninsula as he seeks to further add to his lead at the top of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit.
A stellar field that includes Nisbet, James Nitties, Michael Sim, Nick Flanagan and former PGA Tour winner Andre Stolz will compete for a share of the $100,000 in prize money alongside amateur playing partners.
Heroes from other sports such as Billy Slater, Glenn Maxwell, Sam Groth, Jack Gunston and David Zaharakis will all play in the opening two rounds on Thursday and Friday as will Keith Schleiger fresh from overseeing construction on yet another massive season of ‘The Block’.
Almost $30,000 clear of second-placed Anthony Quayle on the Order of Merit courtesy of wins at the New Zealand Open and more recently the MMC Northern Territory PGA Championship, Nisbet arrives at Cape Schanck as the hunted but has no intention of letting the chasing pack close the gap.
“It’s a new position as a pro but I’m not trying to fend anyone off, I’m trying to extend it if I can,” Nisbet said after playing the front-9 at RACV Cape Schanck on Monday.
“That’s why I’m trying to commit to a full schedule in Australia. I don’t want to scrape it in, I want to blast it away.
“I’m trying to put myself in that position."
There are opportunities abound for the winner of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit including full status on the European Tour, a guaranteed spot in The Open Championship and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship as well as berths in two WGC events, the Mexico Championship and HSBC Champions.
“I’m in a position now where I’ll get some pretty good starts regardless into bigger and better events, whether through the European Tour, Dunhill Links or maybe even WGC events.
“Obviously winning is going to be a different kettle of fish again but it’s just exciting to be up there competing.”
In addition to his No.1 status on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, Nisbet sits 22nd on the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity standings.
But rather than trying to divide his time between the two tours, Nisbet intends to focus on the six remaining events on his home Tour's schedule.
“I’ve always tried to support the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia as much as I could,” said the 28-year-old.
“I’ve always been someone who has tried to show this Tour the respect that it deserves by playing everything that my status and health allows me to play.
“The PGA Tour of Australasia has been good to me the last five years so I’m going to try and do everything I can to play all the events for the rest of the year. It’s just a matter of whether I play the Hong Kong Open the week of the World Cup, that’s the only question mark at this stage.”
Given that he had to withdraw from the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup in Japan after one round due to back spasms Nisbet is conscious of keeping his body healthy but is confident he can manage the workload.
“Because I’d taken a bit of time off I tried to squeeze a lot of practice in and might have overdone it,” he said.
“I don’t tend to over-practice normally but because I felt a little under-prepped I put in more time on the range and just tweaked my back a little bit.
“It made day-to-day life pretty uncomfortable and then trying to swing a golf club just made it worse and worse.
“I got some scans done just to be safe and there’s a little bit of inflammation in the disc but it’s nothing we can’t manage.
“I’ve got to be a little bit mindful of it but as long as I’m mindful of it we can manage it.”
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Score Return; Australasian results around the world - 19 - 26th March 2019
Australasian results from around the world: Week of 19 - 26th March, 2019