For a young golfer making his Tour debut, there could be no better mentor than a former PGA Tour winner.
Luckily for 14-year-old Newcastle local Jake Riley, he’ll have friend and RBC Canadian Open winner Nathan Green in the field with him at the 2019 AVJennings NSW Open.
After over 20 years of playing on the world’s largest Tour, Green has transitioned to the role of Vocational PGA Professional and this week is proud to have a student of his own in the mix on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
“Jake is a really good young player so hopefully he can get off to a nice start and enjoy it,” Green said.
“He’s going to have a bit of expectation there and he’s got a lot of family coming down to watch him but we’re proud of him no matter how it goes this week.
“He’s developed really well and is just a good kid. Hopefully he goes alright but he doesn’t beat me. That said if he does, he does.”
In a second stage of his career the 44-year-old has scaled back his tournament commitments but in addition to PGA of Australia events at the beginning of the year, the AVJennings NSW Open and Emirates Australian Open are two the NSW local always earmarks to play.
“I’m still enjoying my golf. I like it when this time of year comes around and I get to play again but I don’t really know what to expect anymore,” he said.
“I can play some good golf and play equally bad for no apparent reason but it is still fun and my life is really good.
“I panic a little bit coming into events like this because I know I’m pretty underdone but you just use your experience a little bit. I can get it around if I’m playing half decent but I’m not willing to sacrifice the balance of life that I have to play more golf.”
Crediting a relaxed attitude, work-life balance and a supportive family, a win on the Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series the week prior to arriving at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club has boosted Green’s outlook as well as a successful game of cricket at his local club.
“He’s developed really well and is just a good kid. Hopefully he goes alright but he doesn’t beat me …” – Nathan Green
“I hadn’t played for three weeks coming into it so I played nine holes the afternoon before and just went out and played really well so I got a win there,” he said of the pro-am.
“I played pretty decent on Monday as well so I’m hitting some good shots. I’m also hitting some bad ones but I need it not to blow and not to be too tough and I can still work it around.
“I also filled in at my local club on the weekend and we were chasing 200 after being bowled out for 70. We had to follow on and ended up getting a new club record opening partnership of about 190 in the second innings.
“I love any sport. It’s the kind of stuff I didn’t get a chance to do for 20 years or so, so I try and get back and have a bit of fun doing some of that other stuff.”
As for words of advice for young Riley, Green will encourage him to keep a strong mind out on the course.
“I’ll just tell him to try and enjoy it. It’s going to be an uncomfortable experience for him early on but as much as you can say to someone, just relax and play like a normal game, you’re not going to,” he said.
“You’ve just got to control the things you can control which is a good process before every shot and try and hit good shots.
“He’s going to get a few looks around here for birdie so just be patient and make birdies if you can. If you play well you play well but if you don’t, don’t beat yourself up.”
Green and Riley join a field of 156 professionals and amateurs at the AVJennings NSW Open at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club from November 28 to December 1.
The field will compete for their share in $400,000 at the event where the winner will also receive World Golf Ranking Points, a spot in the field at the 2019 Emirates Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship, as well as exemption onto the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia until the end of the 2020 season.