NZ Open winner Higginbottom eyeing US move

STEVE JANCETIC
Last updated 19:01 19/12/2012

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Jake Higginbottom wants to have a crack at the US tour by the end of next year, but Jack Newton has warned Australia's impressive crop of young golfers against rushing off across the Pacific.

Higginbottom, who turned professional immediately after winning last month's New Zealand Open, has mapped out his path for 2013, a journey the 19-year-old hopes will finish with a successful run at tour school in the US at the end of the year.

"I want to end up in the States, so I think there's no harm in going over there and trying to qualify," Higginbottom told AAP.

But citing the career stumble of another prodigy in Won Joon Lee, who lost his card on the secondary tour in the US after a poor 2012, Newton said young golfers would be best served cutting their teeth in Asia and Europe before heading for the riches of the US.

He also urged caution in expecting too much too soon from the nation's junior stars.

"A lot of people want to put tags on people ... this player's going to be the best player that ever lived and so on, and they stub their toe somewhere and they disappear," Newton said.

"A lot of these young kids are rushing to America too early and then get their arse kicked.

"(Lee's) lost his card in America, he's got a place in Las Vegas and he's flying back from here to shut all that down to come back to Sydney and start again ... that's the way it can go.

"I just wish a lot of these kids wouldn't rush to America because you'll get killed with the numbers.

"It's not that they're better, but there's someone shooting the lights out every week and it gets to you mentally in the end.

"If you're off track, it's a bad place to be because the numbers will kill you, they'll run over you.

"These days Asia's probably a very good option."

Newton got a first-hand look at Higginbottom this week at the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic at Cypress Lakes - a two-day pro-am based more on fun than serious golf.

Higginbottom said he would initially take advantage of the OneAsia Tour exemption he earned for winning the NZ Open and would take part in the Asian tour qualifying school in January.

Newton backed Higginbottom's decision to turn professional, having watched his progression through the junior foundation he runs.

"I thought when he won he made the right call to turn (professional) because he's won everything as an amateur," Newton said.

"The world's his oyster really - as long as he keeps doing what he's always done."

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- AAP

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