A fortnight ago a sizzling third round 8-under-par 64 elevated Bryden Macpherson into contention at the Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta. Macpherson, the dual 2009 Australian and New Zealand Amateur Stroke champion went on to record a 3rd place for his highest finish in a main amateur US event since arriving here in January.
Macpherson moved from Australia to attend the University of Georgia where the Freshman attends college and combines his studies with his dream of pursuing a professional career in golf. Life as he knows it has changed considerably from the days of the Victorian Institute of Sport and living on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne.
It is said that a change is as good as a holiday and in Macpherson's case the move to Athens, Georgia and the associated changes have proved the right decision and his results on the golf course is reflecting this.
"I needed at the time to put my life through a sieve back in Australia," says Macpherson, 19.
"Moving to the US was also a bit of a 'life-grow-up' exercise as well for me. I got distracted and I was able to take everything out of my life that I did not want and just throw it away and start fresh."
Macpherson has no regrets with the cloth he's cut. Despite the initial "home sickness", he's fitted into the rhythm and discipline of US collegiate golf and loves every minute of it.
"I wanted to try and put myself outside my comfort zone," says Macpherson about the move to Athens.
"Playing unknowns tests your routines, test your processes and the other things that I do to make me better. I moved over here knowing only three people, the head coach, the assistant coach and one other player. It was a huge thing for me at the time when I look back at it, yet it's the best decision that I ever done."
Ask any Aussie that's attended the US collegiate system and most, if not all, tell you the benefits of being here. It's what you make of it naturally, yet the positives clearly outweigh the negatives. College life opens doors and you made a lot of friends and America is after all where the world of professional golf is focused. It only makes good sense to experience it.
"You get the chance to play a lot of good amateur tournaments which you simply do not get the chance to play back home," says Macpherson.
"Here if you have a bad day you're off the leader board very quickly. Back home you can have an average round and still finish with a top-20 result. You can't get away with that here as the depth of the fields are just so strong."
Macpherson loves the college life and all the trappings that go with the system, with top quality coaching, access to state of the art equipment from the main suppliers, as well as the exposure to high quality tournament fields week in week out.
"I have a new fitness coach and that's making a lot of difference," he says.
"Fitting into the culture while still trying to keep your Aussie background has also been a challenge for me. I'm not used to fitting in, but I've managed so far."
The combined discipline of academia and playing US collegiate golf is a factor not often considered by outsiders. There have been numerous Australians who have either not made the grade academically or fallen out because the going was too tough.
Macpherson plans to be a the survivor of the system. His academia results back in Australia were solid, as they needed to be to even get a foot into the US system and we know that he can play golf.
He's part of an ever expanding list of Australian talent currently on the tough US collegiate system and getting noticed. Mitchell Krywulycz was instrumental in the Augusta State team that collected their first NCAA Championship title over collegiate powerhouse, Oklahoma State last month, Sydney's Jono Painter is at Bethany College in Kansas, Ben Pisani is at Minnesota, Apo Tsolakis, University of Texas and talented Queenslander Tarquin MacManus is playing out of the University of Arizona.
The system produces talent without question as the long list of US College alumni indicates. Rickie Fowler went to Oklahoma State, Bubba Watson attended the same university which Macpherson is at, University of Georgia, both PGA Tour players and the list could go on.
Macpherson eventually plans to do the same transition as Fowler and Watson from US collegiate golf to the PGA Tour.
Having watched Macpherson in action both in Australia and aboard there's a mystique about his game. Possessing one of the purest swings you are likely to see, Macpherson has the kind of poise and maturity attributed more to a seasoned tour journeyman than a guy approaching his 20's. Its an attribute that will undoubtedly see him progress to the next level.
Predicting what might eventuate with any promising amateur is always fraught with danger. Golf fans and yes the Media are quick to elevate these young guns and the younger the better.
Yet the thing that impresses you most about Macpherson is his propensity to give things a go. He's not afraid to, as he says "opt outside my comfort zone".
Maybe that goes with the innocence of youth, Macpherson is after all young and talented. Then again the propensity to go that extra yard in search of grander and your goals is a trait common in many professional sportspersons. It's a unique aspect to have and it will see Macpherson continue to do well in years to come. He's made the move and is getting comfortable.
"Living in the US was certainly a major change for me," he says.
"I've never moved out of home before, but it's the best thing I've done and I'm really appreciative of what I've been given here at Georgia. I could not have asked for a better facility and coaching staff and the rest is now up to me."
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