Nitties keeps his eye on the prize
BY Anthony Powter | Australasian PGA Tour | 2007 Australian Open | Round Four | 16 Dec 2007
Later this afternoon life could be substantially different for James Nitties should he be the 2007 Australian Open Champion. He’ll not only be holding the Stonehaven Cup, but would have topped the Australasian Tour Order of Merit.
To an outsider, you may think winning our National Open is the crown jewel of the two. Whilst it certainly ranks, and any Australian tour player certainly wants to claim the honour of being the national champion, the spin-offs with topping the Order of Merit are never far from the radar of emerging players like Nitties.
It means some type of job in America next year, with the top three money earners gaining automatic starts in the US Q-School final stage and with that, at the very least, a conditional Nationwide Tour card.
Nitties’ broader objective is to gain a US tour card of some type and to settle in to the grind of four-round tournament golf. Scheduling consistency is something Nitties missed and to an extent, injury aside, it’s restricted his career since he turned professional in 2004.
Nitties has come off a torrid period, that has seen him plagued by injury. There was also considerable frustration with his game that came from having to Monday qualify in order to gain one of seven spots in the main event every Thursday. Nitties played fifteen of those qualifiers from which he progressed to the main draw six times.
“I was playing well, shooting three or four under and still missing out,” remarked Nitties yesterday, after his third-round 69 to finish joint leader with Robert Allenby.
“It’s not easy and at times you think it’s not going to happen, but you keep focused and that’s is just what you’re up against when you have no card.”
The A$315,000.00 first prize the Australian Open winner collects this afternoon is a modest amount, compared to the PGA Tour events. For Nitties there is more to gain today than simply the prize money, although it certainly will not go astray.
He’s been living from his winnings from the runners-up finish in the 2004 Australian PGA Championship for the last few years, as he’s travelled extensively throughout America.
“I want to look forward to the positives. I’m a better golfer that I was then [2004 Australian PGA Championship],” remarked Nitties yesterday.
“There are a lot of players who become a flash in the pan. They do well in one event and you never hear of them again. I want to play better than that and can.”
Nitties has, to an extent, become the modern day version of Mad Max. A globe trotting, satellite tracking road warrior, who travels between Nationwide Tour Monday qualifiers, usually by car, in a routine that borders on nomadic.
He’s been based in Tallahassee in Florida, staying with Long Sellenz, who’s looked after Nitties like a father figure and provided a sanctuary during the down periods, reinforcing to Nitties that the effort will eventually be worth it. Another attraction for Nitties to get away from golf is Las Vegas, but as the saying goes – “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
James Nitties is a suave golfer in search of that elsuive foreign tour card and a foundation to move onto the world golfing stage. His powerful approach to the game is impressive and there is his uncanny talent to remain composed whilst the heat is on.
This afternoon he will have his chance to springboard his career and make amends to the mishaps of the past few years. The spotlight will descend upon him as he tees off in the final paring with two-time Champion Robert Allenby. Hopefully, as often happens in Vegas, the numbers will fall Nitties way.
“I’ll just talk to myself and say, ‘I’ve been here before’, and talk a lot a crap with my caddie in between shots and just see how it unfolds.”