Greg Chalmers opens up at Open

Defending champion Greg Chalmers was first cab off the rank amongst this week's Australian Open press conferences and he was quick to point out the importance of winning this event twelve months ago.

"There is no question that this (his 2011 Australian Open victory) was the start of some really great things for me this year. I did not win in America but I got a lot of great opportunities based on how I performed in Australia.

"I was really thankful that I got to play in the British Open, the US PGA and some World Golf Championships. I got some opportunities I would not have had in the past. They came from winning the Australian Open."

"I've only played nine majors. I had not played the British Open for 12 years. It was a great experience for me. I played a practice round with Tom Watson. I wrote him a letter. There were some things this year that, at the age of 39, I had not done or it was a while since I had done them. From that standpoint it was a really great year."

Chalmers highlighted that after being shy earlier in his career he now seeks advice from experienced players.

"I was shy when I was younger. I did not have the guts to ask people questions. I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Byron Nelson before he passed away a few years ago. That was when I clued in the idea that I needed to talk to people.

"I spoke to Tom, I spoke to Nick Price this year, Paul Azinger. I'd love to chat to Greg Norman. I hope I get the opportunity next week. It is tough. You want to ask the questions but you almost want to sit them on a couch. It is like a psychology thing sometimes.

"It can be uncomfortable if they don't want to answer the questions or you don't want to ask them. I wanted to get into Tom's head a bit and find out if I was on the right path. The game comes very easily to some people. I think he is one of them."

So what was it that Watson said when asked?

"He's very good. There have been three people "“ Tom Watson, Peter Thomson and Bryon Nelson "“ I have spoken to who think golf is a very simple game. I asked him what he thinks about when he plays. You can ask him when he comes in. He said he has had the same backswing thought for 18 years. The game is very simple for Tom. I had 10 thoughts getting out of my car this morning. Some people find it easier than others.

"It is a battle for me. If you can stand over the ball with one thought in your head, you are about 1000 steps in front of most guys. Sometimes I wish I was a lot better at it, other times I am thankful I can process a few things. It is a strength of his. That why he has won eight majors and all those tournaments. It is something to aim for."

So what does winning an Australian Open mean to an Australian?

"It is very personal. When you win an event like this, you have your own small piece of that history. Growing up in this country and watching it as a kid, you have it on a pedestal. There are the majors and then you want to win your nation's Open.

"Given the history we've had with so many great players coming from our country, you want your piece of that. I have two now. Last year was really special for me. I appreciated it more than the first time."

So is it a different feeling being the defending champion?

"It is weird because you think you are the only guy who cares. I've only won nine times and a couple of times I did not go back (to defend) because I was on the PGA Tour or the Nationwide Tour.

I could not tell you on any given week who the (previous) winner was. As a player in the field, it does not bother you. You really don't think about it. But it is important to me on a personal level. I would like to have a good defence of my title.

"I am trying to prepare like that. You get to do a lot of cool things like that that I would not normally do. I told my wife this morning that I had my "pressa". She said, 'You are an idiot'."

So how is your game right now?

"It is pretty good sitting here right now. What that means on Thursday, I'm not quite sure. I played nine holes this morning and I played 18 holes both days for the past two days. I had not done a lot before that.

"I had some time off with my family in Sydney. My game felt pretty nice and I am looking forward to starting on Thursday. I have more obligations that week than I normally would have. That is something new to me."

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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