Most players at Concord this week know, within reason, where they’ll be in coming weeks and months. Not so Louis Dobbelaar.
The 20-year-old, like many of his peers, has eyes for the bright lights of the PGA Tour.
But the reigning Australian Amateur champion has absolutely no idea what path he’ll tread in that quest.
He’s booked to Argentina next week to resume on the LatinoAmerica Tour, the pathway to the secondary Korn Ferry platform in the United States.
But courtesy of the PGA of Australia’s Order of Merit (OOM) “prizes”, with a slice of luck at this week’s Golf Challenge NSW Open, Dobbelaar might well skip the South American phase of his upcoming odyssey.
The Queenslander comes to Concord fifth on the OOM, but less than $4,000 from third place. The top five get a ticket to the final stage of Korn Ferry Q-School later this year, while the top three earn status on the Tour formerly known as European.
“I’ve already learnt that it doesn’t pay to set plans too far ahead. Things can get catapulted in any direction quite quickly, so I’m in an exciting position." - Louis Dobbelaar.
It’s all a wonderful mystery to Dobbelaar, who knows precisely all the permutations that lie ahead, yet seems blissfully content to let the cards fall where they may.
“My focus is to control what I can and do a good job of that. Everything outside of that is a bonus,” he said after seven birdies in today’s pro-am.
“I do know everything that’s going on and what I need to do and where I need to finish, but I need to get back to tournament golf and do the stuff I do well and if I do that, I’ll be happy regardless.”
That “stuff” has been pretty solid this summer. A fifth in Hunter Valley last week comes after back-to-back third placings in the Australian and Queensland PGA championships in January – all after turning pro in November and immediately punching his Latino ticket.
It’s that increasing consistency that’s the surest sign that Dobbelaar has learnt to push aside the pressure of external expectations, just as they did when he won the New Zealand Amateur as a 15-year-old and was immediately anointed the “next big thing”.
“I’ve learnt that can happen when you’re under any kind of spotlight and quite young,” he said.
“There are a lot of pressures that you didn’t know existed, but I wouldn’t change anything – it’s all shaped me and helped me deal with certain things at certain times.”
Part of those lessons has been watching good mate Jed Morgan win the Aussie PGA this year and the rise and rise of his mate and inspiration, Cam Smith, winner of this week’s Players Championship.
“It’s exciting to see your mates do well and they’re both phenomenal players. It’s good for your confidence … but it makes you think if they can do it, `Why not me and why not now?’.”
Dobbelaar won twice on the cut-throat U.S. amateur scene last year, immediately providing the belief for that very catchphrase.
“It definitely helps you think things stack up. I had a feeling for a little while that I was ready, but to get over there, feel like I could be myself and compete was that way of kind of knowing what lies ahead hopefully.
“But I really don’t mind which way it takes me.
“I’ve already learnt that it doesn’t pay to set plans too far ahead. Things can get catapulted in any direction quite quickly, so I’m in an exciting position.
“All I can do is just play good golf, do my stuff well and see where it takes me.
“I don’t know where that’s going to be, but I’m ready.”