THE question was barely completed before Nathan Holman cut the reporter off.
“Can Nathan Holman win the Australian PGA tomorrow?” the news man wanted to know, but Holman's “Definitely!” ended the query before it was finished.
One of only four players to be in red figures after 54 holes, Holman is in prime position to claim his maiden professional title at RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast and, more importantly, he is confident he can do it.
“I've been close a few times and, kind of, got myself into some really good positions and haven't capitalised yet,” he said of his chances Sunday.
“If you keep doing that a number of times, you're going to get one that's going to work out for you and hopefully tomorrow will work out for me.”
While a 2-under-par 70 doesn't normally earn accolades at this level of the game in this case it does.
Only 13 of the 71 players who made the cut shot under-par on day three and only three of those rounds were better than Holman's.
That he managed to achieve that number with a double bogey at the 1st hole and a dropped shot at the last only made the feat more impressive.
“Doubly bogey on the first kind put me a long way behind where I wanted to be early,” he said.
“But to be able to play solidly and pick up shots throughout the day was nice.
“It's going to be, probably, a tough day tomorrow, wind's probably up again so staying patient like I did today is going to be the key I think.”
Holman is well aware what's at stake this week and, while he may not yet have the highest profile among Australian golf fans, he is one of the best players of recent times.
At every level he has passed the test put before him starting back in 2013 when he grabbed the limelight as the 36-hole leader of the Australian Masters at Royal Melbourne.
His Friday 65 that week earned him a Saturday tee time with then reigning US Masters champion Adam Scott, a test he passed with flying colours by returning a 2-under-par 70.
Later that year he secured his card for the 2014 Asian Tour and easily retained playing rights with a second and a third among his 10 tournament finishes.
THE WEEK IN GOLF - PAUL DUNNE:
In 2015 he managed to get 10 starts on the European Tour, making the cut in all but four though failing to impress at the end of year Q-School in Spain three weeks ago.
Holman withdrew from that event when it was clear after three rounds he had little hope of securing a card, instead heading home to Melbourne to play the Australian Masters at Huntingdale.
That decision paid off with a T17 result and he backed it up with a T21 at the Australian last week,
But the ultimate goal of playing in Europe remains.
Holman is well aware that box could be ticked if he can get the job done tomorrow, victory earning the winner an exemption for the remainder of this season plus all of next season, effectively a two year bonus on the world's second biggest circuit.
“It's a massive opportunity so early in the season,” he says of the co-sanctioning arrangement put in place this year by the PGA of Australia and the European Tour.
“I mean, if you win obviously you get that year exemption but even if you have a good result you get some good points on the Race to Dubai early and probably create some playing opportunities for yourself in Europe later in the year.
“I think it's a great opportunity not just for young guys but for anyone.”
It's one Holman would obviously like to take advantage of and he feels if conditions stay as they have been the first three days his chances are enhanced.
“I kind of prefer the way it's playing, obviously difficult,” he says. “You've got to be strong in all parts of of your game on this golf course, then with the wind blowing you have to be really patient.
“There's not going to be a huge amount of guys who can contend tomorrow so that works in my favour and also the guys at the pointy end of the field.
“If you hit a bad shot here you know about it, but the tougher it is the better for me.”
Holman won't be fazed by whatever unfolds tomorrow and, while it's one of the game's most tired cliches, he is a firm believer in 'one shot at a time'.
“You hear it all the time, take one shot at a time,” he says.
“But I don't think there's ever been truer words spoken, especially on a Sunday afternoon.”
Photo: Justin Falconer
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