I'm just back from a fantastic tournament in Bangkok where I played the Asia-Pacific Amateur.
There were 120 invited players in the field from all around the Asia-Pacific region.
The event is run by the R&A and also the Masters.
It's such a cool feeling when you get to meet the likes of Billy Payne, Craig Heatley and members of Augusta National.
The event is run identical to the US Masters, with an opening ceremony, gala dinner after round three and champagne champions toast.
The winner received a spot in the US Masters and the final qualifying of the British Open.
The Amata Springs Country Club is one of two courses in the world that have an island green where you needed a boat to take you out.
Playing at 120m long, a 9m-wide green made for an intimidating hole.
The greens were very grainy, running at 11 on the stimp (very quick).
The rough was 9cm and the ball nested down every time, making it the biggest penalty for missing a fairway.
The fairways were wide, however, and the course was very resort-style - intimidating to look at with heavy bunkering and water around a few holes but the shot was never too demanding and you could get away with the odd missed shot.
I started great out of the box, getting to three-under through 12.
Feeling well on track and playing great golf, I finished with a disappointing ride home to finish even-par.
Round two saw me playing just as well, getting to five-under on 17 before hitting it in the water and taking a double-bogey five on the eighth (my 17th).
I bounced back well with a birdie on the long ninth. Capped off a great round four-under 68.
Despite shooting four-under, I lost four shots on the leader and was 10 shots back.
My spirits and goals were still of the highest standard and attitude.
I knew the leader might falter and, with two good rounds, I could catch him.
Round three left me stranded with the driver. I wasn't getting myself in position to score and paid the penalty, finishing four-over-par.
My chances of winning were over so I reset my goals to finish on a high note and redeem myself. I knew a good round could still see me climb the leaderboard.
I hit the ball so great in the fourth round.
I was giving myself the best opportunities but not seizing the putts, which was costing me.
A strong finish saw me birdie the par-five 15th and the signature hole 17th to finish three-under and in a tie for 14th.
Overall there were lots of positives to take away, mainly from the mental side and how positive I was.
We were staying in central Bangkok so I got to have a great look around.
I went to a lot of markets and to the Sky bar where The Hangover II movie was made. The tuk tuk taxis were something special, too.
Next up I will be preparing for the New Zealand Open, coming up in two weeks at Clearwater golf course.
I have also received an invitation to the Australian Open, from December 6 to 9 at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney. This is a special invite, as Australia golf gave only one invite to New Zealand's top amateur.
I look forward to putting a good cap on a great year at these last two events.
- The Southland Times