ROOKIE: Life on tour was full of surprises for Travis Smyth.
If a week is a long time in politics, then a year of professional golf is almost an eternity. Especially if it is your first.
It was only 12 months ago that Travis Smyth arrived at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club for the AVJennings NSW Open only a few days in a professional career and impressed by the debut with a T11 finish.
Fast forward a year and a more rounded, mature and seasoned Smyth tees on the larger western Sydney layout tomorrow looking for a second PGA Tour or Australasia title.
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The 23-year-old made his mark on the Australian golf scene with a victory over the 2017 NT PGA while still an amateur, but since then much water has passed under the bridge.
"I feel like a step for me last year," he said on the eve of the championship of 2018.
"I have not deteriorated in any way and that is really important, I have traveled a lot and played many tournaments and it was all a very important experience."
"You can not really practice a lot of things you have to do to become a professional golfer, you just have to do it and that's been for me this year."
After he had produced rounds of 70-66-71-69 a year ago to finish 12-under and T11, Smyth says he feels good about what he expects to be a championship with a low score.
"I feel good this week," he said. "I played the practice rounds well and I enjoy the course and it suits my eye.
"The greens are perfect, so there are no excuses for playing badly, the scores are low, like last year, so I'll see if I can make some putts and the score will be there.
"All 18 holes here are birdie opportunities and you really have to be in attack mode from the first tee to the 72nd green, so that's what I'm going to do."
To help him along the way, some difficult lessons will be learned early in the year when, after having earned a card to play the Asian Tour, he missed five straights to start the year.
"I think I've analyzed everything too much," he says about the poor run. "I just had to play." After you've missed a few cuts, it starts playing in your head and before I know it, I started tournaments that are just thinking about making the cut and that's not good.
"After I finally made one, the pressure was gone and I'm really proud that I have not missed another cut for the rest of the year."
In fact, he played well enough in the second half of the season for all but safe playing rights for 2019 and now looks forward to building on what has been an impressive debut season
"I now know that I can get where I want to be in the game," he says. "And I have learned that it may not be next year or the year after or five years, but I know I will be there.
"And having that belief is probably the most important of all."
A win this week at Twin Creeks would be a big step on the path and would not be a surprise to those who paid attention to Smyth's career so far.
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