James Nitties: Mastering the Masters
BY Anthony Powter | Australasian PGA Tour | 2009 Australian Masters | Round One | 12 Nov 2009
When James Nitties returns from the US to Australia he wants to play well. The Novocastrian prides himself of performing his best in front of his home crowd. There is pride at stake as well as a genuine desire to succeed and master any Australian layout.
This morning at Kingston Heath, Nitties exhibited the form that resulted in the 27-year-old retaining his playing privileges on the US PGA Tour following his rookie season on tour, as he fired a peerless 6-under-par, 66 to hold the share of the lead with tournament drawcard and world number 1, Tiger Woods. Branden Grace’s opening 66 also has him with a share of the lead.
It was a perfect start for Nitties’ Australian campaign, following a five week break from the tour.
“To be honest I actually felt that I was a little rusty coming into this tournament,” said Nitties after his round.
“It’s great to get off to a start like this. I love playing back in Australia. It’s my favourite place to compete and I want to do well here in front of the Australian galleries.”
Nitties was able to thread the tight Kingston Heath layout with precision tee shots of the tee. At 6455 metres, the course is not long by modern day standards, but the challenge is certainly there. Fairway and greens are premium in order to score well.
“The greens today had a lot of front pin placements, and were softer which made it a little easier,” remarked Nitties.
“Should they firm up over the weekend and place the pins near the back, this will become a totally different golf course. I hope they do not get too carried away, otherwise it will be a struggle.”
Nitties’ game is moulded from struggles. His formative years on tour were marked by grit, determination and the desire to succeed. Nitties never lost sight of his goals, it kept him motivated and moving forward. With playing privileges all secured for the 2010 PGA Tour season, Nitties has finally found a tour to call home after years of pay-to-play foundation tours.
To this day Nitties has never had playing privileges on the Nationwide Tour, he went straight to the main tour by a second place finish at the 2008 Q-School. In a space of just two weeks, he had by-passed the Nationwide Tour and gone straight to the main tour.
“I’ve taken a lot from playing the PGA Tour,” he says.
“You realise that you do not have to change your game to play on the PGA Tour. If you are good enough to get there, you don’t need to change anything major. You just have to keep working on the same things and not put too much pressure on yourself.”
This year on the PGA Tour, Nitties finished 94th on the money list with earnings just under US$940,000, through two top-10 finishes, including a 4th at the FBR Open. He made fifteen cuts from twenty-seven starts and gained invaluable experience in the process.
Nitties has always possessed the game to match it with the world’s best. Despite all the trappings associated with the PGA Tour, he recognises the hard yards are still required to remain competitive on tour.
“I’ve still got a lot to work on,” says Nitties.
“My game is far from US PGA Tour winning ready and I know what I have to work on. Being able to secure my card pretty easy, was a great experience and I’ve taking a lot in about my game.”
Nitties this week in Melbourne is taking in his stride all the hype associated with having the world’s number 1 , Tiger Woods, competing.
“I haven’t played much lately,” he says.
“I’ve played once in the last five weeks, so for me to come out and hit some half-decent shots, that was my goal. It really puts it in perspective for the rest of the week, you get more confidence and hopefully I’ll keep playing this good for the rest of the tournament.”
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