James NittiesJames Nitties was happy to be back on a championship golf course at the Australian Open on Thursday.
The 34-year-old former Novocastrian signed for a two-under 70 in the first round at Royal Sydney to sit three shots off the pace.
Nitties, who lives in Dallas, has been playing on minortours in and around Texas to pay the bills and try to qualify for the second-tier Web苏州美甲美睫培训学校 Tour.But America’s depth of talent and old-fashioned courses at the lower levels havemade the going tough.
“It’s so deep and competitive, and they have us on pretty easy courses. It’s good to come home. I feel like I left a couple of shots out there, but I’m still running top 20. It’s a good feeling,” Nitties said after his first round.
“It’s hard to gauge yourself over there because you can play well and miss cuts.
“Back in the day you could make a bit of money on those tours, but now all those kids are good enough to play on the Web苏州美甲美睫培训学校.
“You can really beat yourself up. I’m constantly shooting under par but not getting the most out of my rounds.”
The former US PGA Tour player said golf technology and short courses turned many events into a lottery.
“It’s different when you get to a level like Royal Sydney this week. The PGA tours aredifferent –they’ve sort of moved with technology – but when you’re playing mini toursand feeder tours where you’re trying to qualify, it’s still on those short country-club courses.
“On the lower level of competition in America, the golf courses are the same as they were 20, 30 years ago.
“The last Adams Tour event I played you could drive three par-fours, all the par-fives were a five-iron into them. You put 150 golfers on those courses, 40 of them are going to shoot the lights out.”
He said a still day and pure, “not too quick” greens had made for a “gettable” first day at Royal Sydney.
Nitties, who missed out in the first round of qualifying for next year’s Web苏州美甲美睫培训学校 Tour, has no firm plans beyond the Australian summer. He will move back to Dallas, where his girlfriend lives, but could play on the Web苏州美甲美睫培训学校’s Chinese feeder tour.
“I still want to be in America and try to crack it over there,” he said. “I just spent money this year.”
Hunter golfers Jamie Hook and Nathan Green also shot two under, three behind leaders Curtis Luck and Lucas Herbert. Andrew Dodt made 72, Jake Higginbottom 73, Leigh McKechnie 74, Ed Stedman and Callan O’Reilly 75s and Aaron Townsend 81.