by Rod Morri
If a week is a long time in politics then a year of professional golf is almost an eternity. Especially if it’s your first.
It was just 12 months ago Travis Smyth arrived at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club for the AVJennings NSW Open only days into a professional career and impressed on debut with a T11 finish.
Fast forward a year and a more rounded, mature and seasoned Smyth tees up at the greater western Sydney layout tomorrow searching for a second PGA Tour of Australasia title.
- VIDEO: Stars taste the best of the west‘
- Photo Gallery: Golf stars sample the best of Penrith
- Tee Times: Rd 1 – AVJennings NSW Open
- Merit Title: Nisbet chasing Money list title
The 23-year-old made his mark on the Australian golf scene with a victory at the 2017 NT PGA while still an amateur but a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.
“I feel this past year has been a stepping stone forward for me,” he said on the eve of the 2018 Championship.
“I haven’t gone backwards by any means and that’s really important. I’ve done an awful lot of travel and played a lot of tournaments and it’s all been really important experience.
“You can’t really practise a lot of the stuff you need to do to be a professional golfer, you’ve just got to do it and that’s what this year has been for me.”
Having produced rounds of 70-66-71-69 a year ago to finish 12-under and T11, Smyth says he feels good ahead of what he expects to be another low scoring championship.
“I’m feeling good this week,” he said. “I played the practice rounds well and I enjoy the course. It suits my eye.
“The greens are perfect so there’s no excuses to play bad. The scores will be low like last year I think so I’ll see if I can hole some putts and the score will be there.
“All 18 holes here are birdie chances and you really have to be in attack mode from the first tee to the 72nd green so that’s what I’ll be looking to do.”
Helping him along the way will be some difficult lessons learned early in the year when, having earned a card to play the Asian Tour, he missed five straight cuts to start the year.
“I think I was over analysing everything,” he says of the poor run. “I needed to just go play. “After you miss a couple of cuts it starts to play on your mind and before I knew it I was starting tournaments just thinking about making the cut and that’s not good.
“After I finally made one the pressure was off and I’m really proud to say I didn’t miss another cut the rest of the year.”
In fact he played well enough in the second half of the season to all but secure playing rights for 2019 and is now looking forward to building further on what has been an impressive debut season.
“I know now that I can get where I want to be in the game,” he says. “And I’ve learnt that it might not be next year or the year after or in five years but I know that I will get there.
“And having that belief is probably the most important thing of all.”
A win this week at Twin Creeks would be a big step along the path and would come as no surprise to those who have paid attention to Smyth’s career to date.