Gillespie continues hectic year with Oz trip

By John Maslin

Catching the "red eye" flight out of Wellington yesterday morning to get to Sydney to make tee time for another pro-am event is all in a day's work for Wanganui professional golfer Nick Gillespie.

This time the pro-am, involving professional players and amateurs playing 18 holes together, is being staged at the Mt Broughton Golf and Country Club, about an hour-and-a-half south of Sydney.

But after the "play time" Gillespie knuckles down to the real world of pro golf when he tees off in the New South Wales PGA.

It's been a hectic year for the 24-year-old, with its share of highs and lows, but he remains doggedly determined.

He was a starter in the NZ Open held at Clearwater in Christchurch last weekend but missed the cut.

"That first round wasn't too sharp. There was a lot of wind to contend with but then most of us were in that position," Gillespie said.

"It would have been nice to have played a couple of rounds without the wind. But then I didn't putt that well either."

He politely referred to the Clearwater course layout as "testing".

At Clearwater he fired an 84 in his opening round, which included three double bogeys and six bogeys. He improved with a 73 second round but it was not enough.

It was a disappointment because the week before he made the cut in the Australian Masters played at Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne. And but for a bit of a hiccup in the final round he would have finished higher than his 42nd place.

After opening rounds of 72, 75, 69, Gillespie was dogged with a fourth-round 78.

He was bitten by a series of bogeys in that last round on the ninth, 10th, 12th, 16th and 18th holes and a horror 8 on the par 5 14th. It was a hole he had birdied in his first and third rounds.

But he got a pay cheque and that makes a difference.

Before the Australian tournament he galloped across the Pacific and into Asia, playing in China and Korea before heading back to Australia.

That round trip started with the South Pacific Open in Noumea, a tier-two Australian PGA event, where he finished 32nd.

His tournament schedule then saw him in China for the Nashan China Masters where he tied for 47th. That was followed by the Kolon Korea Open but he missed the cut there.

More ocean-hopping followed, with Gillespie back in Perth for the West Australia Open Championships where he had another pay day with a 47th placing before playing in the Masters and the NZ Open.

"It was a great trip through China and Korea and I played some good golf so I was satisfied with that," Gillespie said.

He was in vaunted company with players such as Louis Oosterhuizen in both tournaments. "Playing amongst those guys is a bit special," he said.

Gillespie is candid enough to acknowledge that forging a career in the professional ranks isn't a sinecure.

"It would be great to be a Rory McIlroy but that's not going to happen without a lot of hard work," Gillespie said.

Asked if he was working on any particular part to his game, the affable Wanganui pro said it was all about keeping positive.

"A lot of it is how I approach things mentally.

"It's about those goals I've set myself and how I work towards reaching them. I've got to trust what I do," he said.

Gillespie will be home before Christmas for a brief break.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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