Twelve months ago Travis Smyth underwent a four-day transformation.

Entering the MMC Northern Territory PGA Championship at Palmerston Golf Course in Darwin’s eastern suburbs last September, Smyth was a highly regarded amateur who had already made his presence felt in professional tournaments. He left the NT not with the winner’s cheque for $22,500 but something infinitely more valuable; belief.

A wire-to-wire, six-shot victory propelled Smyth into the professional ranks riding a wave of momentum. The year since has been one of discovery, both as a player and a person.

In his first three tournaments as a full member of the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, Smyth accumulated close to $50,000 and carried that form into Asian Tour qualifying school where he finished tied for third to earn his card.

In his first full year as a professional, Smyth has played tournaments in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Korea, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Fiji and says the experience of playing professional events as an amateur instilled a sense of confidence that has served him well.

“I did feel a lot more comfortable and I’d felt good playing as an amateur even before that victory,” Smyth said of his 2017 Territory triumph. “I was very fortunate to get a whole bunch of starts as an amateur because guys who turn pro with no professional starts are probably going to feel a bit lost out there because it is so new to them.”

An opening round of 63 set up a tie for 11th at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in March before he embarked on life on tour, missing the cut in a Web .com Tour event and in his first five starts in Asia. It was a steep learning curve but one the 23-year-old seems to have come out of with top-20 results at both the Royal Cup and Fiji International in his two most recent starts.

“I missed something like six cuts in a row, which I’ve never done in my life, so I feel like it’s taught me a lot,” said Smyth, who began his golf journey on the New South Wales South Coast before joining St Michael’s Golf Club in Sydney.

“It does feel a little bit different going out onto the Asian Tour because the players on average are a little bit better and it still feels like I need to perform and find my feet a bit more on that tour. So far I’ve been to at least 10 countries this year and every single course is different with different greens and different speeds so just getting accustomed to being able to adapt straight away because you don’t really have much time to prepare.

“That’s been the hardest part so far. It makes me feel a lot better when I do play well because I’ve felt the lows so badly, in my eyes anyway. I don’t take anything for granted anymore. I work my butt off and just keep playing well.”

Smyth’s title defence of the NT PGA headlines a star-studded field that also boasts New Zealand Open champion Daniel Nisbet, Victorian Open champion Simon Hawkes, former US PGA Tour players Michael Sim and James Nitties and 2018 tournament winners Daniel Fox (Queenslandd PGA), Michael Long (WA PGA) and Daniel Gale (PNG Open).

The MMC Northern Territory PGA Championship will be played at Palmerston Golf Course from tomorrow. In addition to the winner’s share of the $150,000 prize purse, the champion will receive Official World Golf Ranking Points and be fully exempt onto the PGA Tour of Australasia until the end of the 2019 season.