By Kenneth Quillinan
The success of Australian golf in 2016 continues to grow, and we’re not just talking about Adam Scott and Jason Day on the US PGA Tour. The Down Under assault on world golf picked up speed in March when Scott Hend won the True Thailand Classic and Matt Griffin lifted the New Zealand Open trophy in Queenstown. Australian Golf Digest recently caught up with Melbourne native Griffin to talk about his nailbiting victory at The Hills.
When the birdie putt dropped on the 72nd hole at the New Zealand Open, you must have had a lot of emotion running through you.
Definitely, I was extremely excited and relieved. Once my second shot landed on the green I was doing my breathing exercises to try and calm my heart rate and fortunately the putt dropped and I picked up my sixth professional win.
Any advice offered up by your long-term caddie as you reached the home stretch?
Craig (Warren) was just trying to keep me patient as the round drew to a close. He said to me that I was playing well and that a birdie wasn’t far away. He was correct!
Any plans to have your partner Liz back on the bag again? Possibly Korea? I hear she has mastered the language…
Yes, Liz speaks Korean extremely well and I plan to return to Korea for at least one event this year, in which I hope she can caddie. She caddied for me in three events early this year and I played well. We had a great time.
How did you celebrate after the New Zealand Open win?
Fortunately, I had a number of family and friends over there, so it was a great celebration. We headed to a bar in Queenstown and celebrated by drinking some champagne and wine out of the Brodie Breeze trophy. I shouted them all for the evening as an appreciation for their ongoing support.
Any plans to spend the rest of the winnings?
Well, after the Sunday celebration, we took a trip to Milford and tried out the power jet experience in Queenstown, which was a lot of fun. I’m still trying to work out what to do with the rest of the prizemoney.
Your sponsors must be very pleased with this victory too?
Yes, of course. I’m very grateful to Drummond Golf in particular. They have been with me since day one and kept their faith in me. I’m glad I was able to give them something to cheer about! Also, I must mention K2 Asset Management, Oakley and Titleist. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
You previously stated the Korean PGA Championship was your greatest achievement. Has New Zealand surpassed that?
The Korean PGA was a huge win for me, but yes, I think this just surpasses it. To win a national championship and to beat such a quality field – including some of Japan’s best players – means it would have to be my biggest win.
I believe you have the same coach as Marcus Fraser and Marc Leishman? I suppose you’re pretty pleased with him?
Yes, I’m lucky to have Denis McDade as my coach, who also coaches Marc and Marcus. Denis works extremely hard with us all and I believe he is one of the best coaches in the world.
Aussie golf seems to be in a dominant position at the moment. Do you stay in regular contact with other Aussies on the various tours?
Australian golf has had a huge 18 months and I definitely think we all feed off each other in some way. With Australia being so isolated from the rest of the world, all Australian professionals travel a lot and often without their families, so we are all close and support each other. It’s always exciting to see another Aussie winner, wherever in the world it may be.
Has this win altered your 2016 plans in any way?
The win has given me a huge boost up the PGA Tour of Australasia’s Order of Merit and the winner of that at the end of the year gains several important exemptions. So I will try to fit a few more events into my schedule to give myself the best chance to win the Order of Merit.
How are you enjoying life in Japan? How different is it to Korea?
Life playing the Japan Tour is great. There are a lot of quality players playing there. I really enjoy the food and lifestyle in Japan, as I did with Korea. I guess the biggest difference between the two is that the Japan Tour has more events than Korea does, which makes my travelling to and from Australia easier to cope with.