Courtesy of their respective first and second place finishes on the 2018 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, Jake McLeod and Matt Millar earnt starts in this week’s WGC-Mexico Championship.
Having both teed it up at Lake Karrinyup in the World Super 6 Perth last week, the journey to Club de Golf Chapultepec was anything but simple.
“Fly out on the red eye here to Brisbane then to LA then Mexico,” McLeod told Golf Australia of his original travel plans during the tournament in Perth.
But after missing Saturday’s second cut, the Queenslander was juggling flights to get his journey underway earlier to allow more time to get acquainted with the course and this week’s unique challenge of playing over 7,000 feet above sea level.
“No pro-am or sponsors day on Wednesday, which is good. So hopefully I can get my body on the right time, get a couple of good practice rounds in. But I need to work on the game a bit, it’s a bit rusty at the moment,” he said.
“There’s a fair bit to work on at the moment to be honest. There’s been some good in there, so I can hopefully draw on a bit of that and hopefully find something and enjoy myself up there. It’s going to be great.
“I’ve looked the course up, it looks pretty old school, tree lined, they play at altitude up there so I’ve heard the ball goes 20 percent further or something like that, which will be cool. I’ll be able to tell the boys how far I’m hitting it. Jordie’s caddying for me and he has caddied up there before and has a bit of experience up there, which will be good for me and make it easier to wrap my head around it.”
Millar missed Friday’s cut in Western Australia and spent time practicing at Lake Karrinyup before beginning his long haul to North America on Saturday afternoon Perth time.
Although disappointed with his game last week, Millar was optimistic about playing alongside the world’s best players in Mexico. And although stopping short of suggesting missing the cut in Perth was a blessing in disguise to allow for an earlier departure, Millar acknowledged the potential benefits of his change in plans.
A straight hitter known for his outstanding course management, Millar should find the accuracy rewarding Chapultepec layout to his liking. But the Canberra based veteran discounted the much discussed value of the distance improving altitude.
“Everyone else will hit it further too,” he jokingly told Golf Australia.
Neither player has started 2019 as well as they finished last year, but the prospect of a guaranteed pay day at the no cut event had both looking at the positives of their long haul journeys and far outweighing the constant battle for Australian based players of jet lag. And despite being among the highest paying chances with the bookies, Millar is experienced and won’t be overawed by the situation, while McLeod has shown his game, when on, is good enough to compete with more credentialed players.
“I think it will probably be a good thing for me, the last couple of weeks I’ve probably been around the cut number and it gets pretty tough when you’re not playing well, to sort of free up and just play golf,” McLeod said. “So, no cut is good. Can hopefully work on a couple of things and get some momentum going for the rest of the year.”
Millar will play the opening two rounds with Japan’s Shugo Imahira and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Aaron Wise, while McLeod tees it up alongside Matthew Fitzpatrick and Gary Woodland.