Only a ticket to the US Masters will delay Travis Smyth from turning professional at the end of the year.
It’s been coming for a while, but making the last eight at the US Amateur match play earlier this month just provided further encouragement.
So now the Shellharbour prodigy is perfectly placed to attack the Australian summer, starting with the NT PGA on Thursday, where close mate and fellow Illawarra golfer Jordan Zunic is the defending champion.
But before the Aussie majors roll around, there’s the lure of a golden ticket to the greatest tournament in the world.
Smyth will play at the Asia-Pacific Amateur in October, where victory would secure his place at Augusta next year, alongside the superstars.
“That’s the only thing that will stop me turning pro now,” Smyth said from Darwin on Tuesday.
“It’s a massive opportunity. I think one of the Aussies will be a huge chance of winning it, so hopefully I can be in contention.”
Smyth is No.22 ranked international amateur, after his impressive effort at the US championships.
It was a bitter-sweet campaign for him, having only been edged out on the last hole of the match play quarter-final against American Doc Redman, who went on to win the title.
“I was really happy with how I played, as much as I would loved to have made the final,” he said.
“If there was a way to lose, that’s probably it. I hit a great shot into 18, but the green just played a bit firmer than the rest of the course and I ended up over the back.
“It hurt a bit, but I’ve taken a lot out of it.”
The amateur championships, both in Britain and the US, are played under one of the most demanding formats in the world.
A 36-hole stroke play is then narrowed down to the top 64 players, who battle it out in 18-hole match play rounds, then a 36-hole final.
Smyth has also qualified as a benchmark athlete, only the second amateur to do so, qualifying for vital funding from Golf Australia as a result.
He has already shown his ability to match it with some of the world’s best, finishing tied for 28th at last year’s Australian Open.
“It was a real learning curve,” he said.
“As much as a played well, I still didn’t feel like I played close to my best.”
And Smyth was also runner-up at last year’s WA Open. His shot at Augusta via Asia-Pacific success starts when Smyth joins the other five Australian players for a trip to Wellington to get a feel of the course, which could be a vital boost in their preparation when they tee off on October 26.
On Tuesday, Smyth was left to shout Zunic lunch after being edged out in a practice round at the Palmerston course.
But after picking his brain about Zunic’s title-winning knowledge of the course, Smyth is optimistic he will be high on the leaderboard on Sunday. As with Zunic, Smyth’s focus will turn to European tour school after the Australian summer.