It’s a long way from the Milperra Mini-Putt to tournament golf near the revered slopes of Mt Fuji, Japan, but it is precisely where Andrew Evans is bound in 2022.
The Sydneysider is preparing himself for the biggest year of his career when he begins his season in tomorrow’s $50,000 Queanbyean Open.
Evans had a breakout year in 2021, beginning with a maiden tour win at the Queensland Open, which he parlayed into full playing status on The Japan Tour.
To many, Evans journey to full playing status on one of the world’s most lucrative tours has appeared smooth, but the reality is it’s been a hard road which started from a fateful game of putt-putt.
“Dad took my brothers and me down to Milperra driving range, near the (Bankstown) airport. There was a driving range and a putt-putt-for-fun. I went for the putt-putt,” Evans recalled.
“I had the bug after that, went to Cash Converters, bought a nine iron and a sand wedge and chipped away on my front lawn until I had dug a nice little hole.
“I joined Bexley Golf Club soon after, that was the first golf club.”
Evans soon moved onto cadets at nearby Hurstville, had a stint at Liverpool golf Club before eventually beginning his PGA traineeship back at his first club, Bexley, under Paul Davis’s guidance.
“I did that (my traineeship) for three years, worked for a year, and then slowly just tried to work my way up the pro-am (rankings) to try and get some sort of Q school status.”
Evans made a relatively inauspicious start to his career, playing pro ams and grinding away. He had a go at Asian Q School in 2011 with no success, but the signs were there that the Sydneysider could compete at a higher level.
“I had a couple of injuries through 2011 – 2015, and then, yeah, obviously had a good week at the Masters (runner-up to Peter Senior in 2015), and that opened doors.
“I first went to Japan Q school in 2016 but missed out, I went to China and played there for a couple of years.
“I had a good week of Fiji (3rd in 2016) and then yeah, had a couple of years which were a bit ordinary, but the last 12 months it’s been pretty good.”
Fast forward to the beginning of 2021, and with COVID about to wreak havoc across the country, Evans had the first of his big breaks, claiming the Queensland Open. It was this victory and the onerousness of COVID lockdowns which would set his course for the remainder of his year.
“It was my first win, and yeah, it was awesome.
“I tried not to make a big deal or anything of it, but it was huge, and it created a different path for my year.
“After the win, I thought I might as well go to Japan, but with the whole quarantine thing, it had stopped a lot of guys going over. But still I had some starts and had to go.”
Don’t forget to tune in to the tournament Website, NSWOpen.com or on the Golf NSW Facebook page to catch the final round action of the 2022 Queanbeyan Open LIVESTREAM.
“I missed the first four cuts and was saying to myself, I’m going to change my flight and go home early, but then I made a cut in one of the big events, got re-ranked, and ended up staying another three more months.
The decision to stay was sound, especially with much of the Australian Tour schedule mothballed due to the pandemic. With just enough events to play in on the main tour, Evans did enough to get himself to the third stage of Japanese Tour Qualifying for 2022.
“I was lucky to get into the third stage, and although I didn’t play my best, I was looking like missing, then I had a really good back nine on the last day and breezed through.
“I knew I would at least have some status for next year then.”
What then happened at the final stage was probably the most profound week of Evans golfing career.
After rounds of 73, 70 and 72 around the Tricky Pete Dye designed Tom Watson Golf Course in Miyazki, Evans has stormed home with a tear-away seven-under 65 to claim first place, a cheque for Y1,000,000, and full playing rights in Japan for the year.
“I don’t think I missed a shot on the back nine in the final round, and it was pretty, pretty cool.”
With 2021 now in his rearview mirror, Evans is now readying himself for his biggest year on to date, beginning with the Queanbeyan OPen tomorrow, before next week’s Australian PGA. Evens will then head to Singapore for the Opening Event of the 2022 Japanese Tour.
“My results and winning the Tour school has opened up lots of options for me this year, definitely.
“2021 in a few words? Well, 2021 was a huge year, and I want to keep it going.
“I don’t want to just like sit back and go, Oh, well, that’s enough. When I got my card in 2018 Japan, I thought getting there was just good enough. Well, I then missed like seven cuts.
“Not this time around. I want to go back up there and try and do some good.
“I’m 36 now, and I don’t know how many years I have left.
“I’m practicing a lot smarter and going to give it a good crack. That’s definitely been the difference between over the last 12 months. So in a couple of words, an amazing couple of years.”