The likeable Western Australian plays just two tournaments a year these days, the Australian Open and the Australian PGA, and yesterday he made the cut at the former putting from the ‘wrong’ side of the ball.
That’s an impressive achievement for a 46-year-old whose full time competitive career ended some years ago but whose love for his national championship draws him back to Australia every year.
“It’s going well a year on,” O’Hern said of the switch in putting styles, which he first made 12 months ago. “It’s about the same as it was last year.
“I had 26 putts yesterday so that’s all right. I had a few more today though. I didn’t get the ball up and down very well.”
O’Hern is making his annual pilgrimage to Australia from his base in the United States because he simply loves to play in his home country.
And with starts at both this week’s Open and next week’s PGA the competitor within still harbours ambitions of a potentially special performance.
Nick O'Hern putting right-handed during Friday's second round of the Australian Open.
“It’s the Aussie Open,” he says bluntly when asked why he makes the long-haul flight every year despite playing no other tournament golf.
“And this is my 20th one. I love these two tournaments and I figure if I can catch lightning in a bottle something good might happen.
“And I can still play. I play a lot of social golf back home and I still shoot under par and all that though obviously social golf and tournament golf are two different things.”
At 2-over for 36 holes this week O’Hern made the cut on the number and now has the chance to test both his right handed putting stroke and the theories he espouses in his self-published book, Tour Mentality – Inside The Mind Of A Tour Pro.
Released last year, the book details O’Hern’s thought processes on the course, including in his two famous matchplay victories over Tiger Woods in the mid 2000s.
“This is a great opportunity for me to put everything that I wrote in the book into practice,” he said at The Australian.
“Mentally I have to be really strong to play these two tournaments.”
So far O’Hern – and his unorthodox putting method – are holding up well and with two rounds to go in the 102nd Australian Open don’t be surprised if the likeable West Australian moves up the leaderboard.
He tees off at 8.19 today with New Zealand’s Michael Hendry.
LAUREN HIBBERT ON DEVELOPING A PRE SHOT ROUTINE:
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