The telling difference between success and failure in sport was highlighted to me at the Fiji International golf tournament I had the pleasure of covering for NZME at the stunning Natadola Bay course on Fiji's Coral Coast.

A top-class field competed, with a host of European players, six previous winners on the US PGA Tour including former FedEx Cup winner and Ryder Cup star Brandt Snedeker, plus three-time major winner Vijay Singh.

It was obvious watching them and the lesser-ranked players hitting balls on the driving range that there was not much between them technically.

The secret to success lies far deeper than technique and power. Self-belief and mental strength are the keys factors at any level of sport.


New Zealand left-hander Gareth Paddison showed in Fiji just how devastating a lack of confidence can be.

I spoke to him after his third round. He was tied for fourth with countryman Michael Hendry, who ended up second behind Snedeker and won $188,310.

In round two, Paddison shot an incredible round of eight-under 64 to set a new course record. I expected a positive chat but instead got a man unsure if he belonged there.

"You sometimes do wonder whether you should be playing the game. I'm 36 now and all sorts of questions float through your mind," he said.

Really? Surely not.

Next morning, he missed a tiny putt on the first green for a confidence-boosting birdie and then missed three more small putts in the next four holes to start a slide that was awful to watch.

Paddison ended up shooting 78 for a four-round set of 76, 64, 69, 78 to crash down to 24th place. He missed the chance to secure his card for the Australasian tour next year and skip some stages for Q School in Japan and Europe. Not to mention enough money to keep him going for another year.

By comparison nine-shot winner Snedeker looked assured from the moment he teed it up in the opening round. You can bet he never second guesses himself.

The Fiji International is proving to be a huge success and is now co-sanctioned with the Australasian and European Tours. A potential audience of 400 million enjoyed the visual spectacular which will only add to Fiji's booming tourism market.

The tournament featured three players with ties to Tauranga.

Josh Geary has had a tough year and an unfortunate slump in form coincided with his chance to start in several tournaments on the US tour, feeder to the US PGA.

A stellar year in China in 2015 had reignited his career but this year has been a case of one step forward, two back for the likeable Geary, who learned his trade at the Otumoetai Golf Club.

It was great to see him in Fiji stepping up and play with real resilience and no little skill in the tough, windy conditions. He finished 12th equal to win $24,263 and the post-tournament qualifying perks Paddison threw away.

Mark Brown lacked his usually sharp short game to finish 24th while Omokoroa-raised Kieran Muir missed the cut at Natadola Bay but is capable of shooting low numbers.