From A Sunburnt Country
By Torleif Sorenson on 3/31/14
Steven Bowditch's career has been a bumpy story — as was TPC San Antonio during the 2014 Valero Texas Open. Neither was pretty, but they both got the job done.
The 30-year-old New South Wales native (now a Queensland resident) was Australia's best amateur player 13 years ago. But shortly thereafter, he was suffering from deep depression. His emergence from the depths of despair and onto golf's highest-profile tour was spurred in part by help from others, especially his wife.
On Sunday, Bowditch hit the first tee with a three-shot lead over Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe. But windy, difficult conditions resulted in a 76 for Bowditch. But Kuchar and Loupe also struggled in the wind, both shooting 75 on Sunday to finish two shots back at -6 = 282. In the end, Bowditch stayed cool and calm, and prevailed by one shot over Americans Will MacKenzie and Daniel Summerhays.
"I was able to stay pretty positive, to be honest. After a period of time out there, with the way I was playing, I kind of just accepted the fact that I was going to be playing from cactuses [sic], moving rocks, missing putts, and just had to deal with it every time. It happened so frequently that it never really surprised me. I was just lucky enough that the wind was up enough today that no one else could squeeze in there and shoot a good score."Bowditch's 76 is the highest winning final round since Vijay Singh's 76 at the 2004 PGA Championship in Wisconsin — but Singh's victory was in a playoff afterward. On Sunday in San Antonio, the rest of the field didn't do much better; the average score was 73.8.
While Summerhays did not win the Texas Open, he did secure his PGA Tour card for next season — and we're still in the month of March. And like Bowditch, Summerhays expressed thanks and relief:
"It's always a relief once you've made enough to keep your card, keep your job for next year. That is a big relief. A lot of these guys are out here trying to win every week. I do want to win, but I'm in a position now where I keep my card for another year. That's a big deal for me. It's a blessing. I feel really grateful.”TPC San Antonio also proved to be anything but a push-over course. If this writer ever has the opportunity to return to San Antonio, the Greg Norman-designed Oaks Course will have to go on the agenda, even if I wind up battered and bruised like a 1975 Plymouth Duster in a demolition derby.
During this PGA Tour season, Australian golfers have won a variety of tournaments around the world. 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott and good friend Jason Day win a team event in Australia (ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf), following by Day winning a very dramatic WGC-Match Play in Arizona. Then two weekends ago, 42-year-old John Senden, also a known quantity on the PGA Tour, won the Valspar in Florida. Karrie Webb continues to win consistently on the LPGA Tour, while 17-year-old amateur Minjee Lee (from Perth, Western Australia) won the 2014 Women's Victorian Open, a professional event on the ALPG Tour.
Peter Thomson, Bob Charles, David Graham, and Bruce Crampton were among the first really successful golfers from Australia. Greg Norman was clearly the most successful golfer of the next wave. But the latest wave of talented golfers from "the sunburnt country" seems to be getting bigger — and better. Bowditch will join countrymen Jason Day, Marc Leishman, John Senden, amateur Oliver Goss, and the defending champion Adam Scott in Augusta for The Masters in two weekends.
Advance, Australia Fair, indeed.
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