Bendigo golfer Heath Reed faces losing direct entry into Australia’s biggest tournaments if he doesn’t perform well at the Australian Open, which starts today.
Reed has the Open at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, followed by next week’s Australian PGA Championship at Coolum to win enough prizemoney to climb the order of merit.
A top-50 placing in the order of merit would guarantee Reed direct entry into Australia’s major events next year, but he’s currently 111th.
Reed’s earning potential has dropped since he reduced the amount of events he played this year to spend more time at his Queensland home with his wife Amy and twins Emma and Luke, who were born in August.
While the threat of losing his card isn’t ideal, Reed doesn’t want to travel to events as often and isn’t feeling the pressure heading into today’s opening round.
“I need to play well the next couple of events to earn enough money to get inside the top 50,” Reed said.
“I’m not sure what that is, but I’m not too stressed about it because I’m probably not going to play too much tour golf next year.
“I’ll wait and see. Obviously if I’m exempt I’ll play a bit, but it will be a bit like I did this year – I didn’t play a lot this year – it’s too hard with the kids.”
Reed is currently more than $13,000 behind 50th place.
But with the prizemoney at the Australian Open and PGA Championship worth $1.25m each, two good results could quickly change that.
“I still want to play all right, obviously, but I’ve struggled for motivation this year knowing I won’t play as full-time as I have been in the past,” Reed said.
“But I’m fairly motivated at the moment, which is good.”
The former Marong and Neangar Park golfer began playing the Australian Open in the mid-2000s.
He hasn’t ruled out returning to the Tour on a full-time basis when his children grow up, but for now he’s focused on the next two events.
Reed has played the past two Opens at The Lakes, missing the cut last year and finishing tied for 58th in 2010.
“The greens are tricky, they’re real undulating so you want to try and hit them close,” he said.
“If you hit them far away on these greens you’re going to struggle to two-putt all day.”
Reed warmed up for the Open with a four-round pro-am event in Queensland last week, where he finished 22nd. “I had one-over then three even-par rounds. Hopefully I can scalp a couple of shots each round and be up there,” he said.
Reed tees off at 1.20pm, while fellow Bendigo golfer Andrew Martin gets under way at 8.35am.