Tyro Guyatt kicks goals to lead way in Masters

NOT many years ago, Matthew Guyatt was playing the highest level of football in Queensland; he can even recall the day he took on former Brisbane Lion Blake Caracella.

Many years from now, he will be able to recall the day he led tournament headliners Adam Scott, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell into the clubhouse after the first round of the 2012 Australian Masters.

The 37-year-old was the quintessential ''bolter'' of the opening day at Kingston Heath, shooting a stunning seven-under par 65 to lead world No. 5 Scott, Europe's Ryder Cup hero Poulter and New Zealand's Michael Hendry, who all finished at five-under - 2010 US Open Champion McDowell was further off the pace at one-under.

Guyatt's name sitting atop the leaderboard at just his second Australian Masters and his first round of the Kingston Heath course allowed his remarkable story to be told on Thursday.

It is a story only made possible by a ''mystery benefactor'' who plucked Guyatt from his job as a golf coach in Queensland and told him he would help him become a professional player.

''I played in a pro-am and just happened to meet a guy who was willing to help me out. He said 'You are too good to be teaching golf, you need to go have a crack','' Guyatt said.

''I said 'Well, I've got a mortgage and three kids, I'm not going anywhere unless I have support'. He's been kind enough to give me that support, so it's been a great opportunity.''

The mystery sponsor who backed Guyatt financially while he made the transition from Australian PGA trainee to a professional now on the OneAsia and Japan tours wants to remain anonymous, and Guyatt respected that wish when pressed by reporters.

Of the two big names he is currently leading, Guyatt shares a mutual friend with Scott and made a point of catching up with his fellow Queenslander earlier this week.

Poulter, meanwhile, had never heard the name ''Matthew Guyatt'' until Thursday, but was serious about not disrespecting his lead.

Asked if it would be good to see himself go one-on-one with Scott in the final round, the Englishman made it clear he would not be looking past Guyatt.

''I'm obviously not answering that question. There's 120 players, not two,'' Poulter said.

Actually, there are only 119 players left in the tournament after Victorian John Wade was disqualified for incorrectly filling in his scorecard. Wade logged the correct total score with officials for his round - an even 72 - but wrote down the wrong score on two individual holes.

Guyatt turned pro in 1999, lost his Tour card two years later and quit the sport before his chance meeting with the benefactor in 2010 put him on the road that led to Kingston Heath.

Of Christian faith, Guyatt said he believed ''it was meant to be''.

The father of three children under eight had tears in his eyes when asked about the significance of the round given the difficulties his coach Kevin Healey had faced recently.

''It's certainly nice to play well for him, but I'd much rather have his wife cured of cancer than play well today,'' he said.

Even after making it onto the Japan Tour it hasn't been smooth sailing.

In September this year, Guyatt led the South Pacific Open after two rounds but awoke the night before day three in ''excruciating pain''.

He was rushed to hospital with kidney stones, and at 7am the next day had to convince the French-speaking doctors they needed to detach his IV drip and let him play golf.

''The staff said, 'You know you haven't passed these kidney stones yet'. But I said 'Look, I'm leading the tournament, I've got to go,'' Guyatt said. ''They said 'Well, you'll probably be back here later on'. I took a bit of a gamble.''

Guyatt struggled through the last two days to end what he described later as a ''massive ordeal''.

The right-hander was scheduled to play in a pro-am at Woodlands Golf Club this week but decided not to chase the cash and instead played an extra practice round at Kingston Heath to acclimatise.

The decision paid off big time, with Guyatt rolling in eight birdies to claim the ''really low'' score Scott had predicted was up for grabs after seeing the perfect conditions - minimal breeze and soft greens - during his earlier round. The Guyatt tale came out of nowhere after it looked like Scott's morning round would be enough to head the field.

This story Tyro Guyatt kicks goals to lead way in Masters first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.