Breaking new ground

TRARALGON teenager Tom Couling showed shades of Tiger Woods’ record-breaking 2000 United States Open victory last month in winning Morwell and Traralgon golf clubs’ championships.

The 17 year-old won by 15 and 16 strokes in Morwell and Traralgon respectively to claim back-to-back open titles at both events.

Tom carded 68, 67 and 71 (205) in Morwell and 65, 75 and 66 (206) in Traralgon to beat out his senior opponents by a hefty margin despite slow starts to each round.

“I didn’t do really well on the front nine in any of the rounds but played really well on the back nine which was good to finish off,” he said.

The three handicapper, who has been golfing for about a decade, said his improved length and accuracy off the tee have been keys to his success in open competition, which he took up at 15.

Another byproduct of Tom’s exposure to men’s tournaments has been an improved ability to stay calm under pressure.

“In the tougher rounds I felt like I held my ground quite well,” Tom said.

“I’ve started finishing my rounds a lot better than I used to which has probably come from playing a lot more men’s tournaments and playing with better ball strikers and better players in general.

“I hit my irons really well and… I was working hard on my putting and it’s starting to pay off now.”

With lofty ambitions of joining the professional ranks in future years, Tom is firmly grounded in the present for now.

The prodigious talent will focus on the Victorian Amateur qualification this week, with the Victorian Junior Masters and Australian Amateur to follow.

“Long term I would like to turn pro and be successful in doing that but I’m just trying to do as much as I can as an amateur before I go on,” he said.

Tom has enjoyed a rich vein of form after representing Victoria Country last month in South Australia and recently finished runner-up in the Victorian Boys Championship.