The big-hitting Queenslander had one hand on the trophy at City Golf Club in Toowoomba in 2016 after setting the back nine on fire in the final round.
After shooting three birdies in his first nine holes, Hart started the run home in spectacular fashion with a run of eagle, birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, par, birdie, birdie to be 12-under the card with one hole to play.
Not only was the then 26-year-old on track to comfortably record his first win on the Australasian tour, but a closing par would have given him a PGA Tour of Australasia record round of 58, while a finishing birdie would result in the lowest score ever recorded in an official tour event.
At the downhill par-four 18th, however, disaster would strike. Hart had been flushing it with the driver all day and saw no reason to not bring it out for his final tee shot. The drive finished out of bounds and he eventually triple-bogeyed to still hand in an impressive score of nine-under 61 - a new course record - and secure a playoff spot against eventual winner David Klein.
The 27-year-old is not deterred by coming so close last year and is looking forward to playing a course he enjoys. “Yeah it is a little bit bittersweet but it’s a new year and it’s good to come back to a place I’m familiar with, hopefully I can go one better,” Hart said.
“I probably won’t be thinking about it too much, the more and more you get in to these positions, the better you get at it. I won’t be too concerned; I’m just focused on getting the job done.”
Hart said he’d have no qualms bringing the driver out of the bag this week and feels the City Golf Club course will play to his long-hitting strength.
“This is about the fourth or fifth year I’ve played here now so, like I said, it’s very familiar to me and it’s my sort of course, I really enjoy it out here.
“It’s very accessible for longer hitters like myself, so it’s good to let the driver go all week. If you’re hitting it straight, you can get up near the greens and take advantage quite easily.”
The Gold Coast local said the opportunity to record his maiden victory in his home state is extra incentive to play well this week.
“Absolutely, there’d be nothing better than getting my first win on this tour in my home event; I’m definitely looking to do that here this week,” Hart added.
Despite missing the cut at last week’s ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open, Hart is happy with his play so far this season and is confident of giving the title another shake this week.
“I played OK in the New Zealand PGA but I missed the cut in the New Zealand Open last week, I still played OK but I didn’t score as well as I would’ve liked.
“I’ve been playing pretty good so hopefully I can continue that. The game is there so I’m pretty confident this week.”
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