Ipswich pro risks all for Japan tour

By Jay Buchan

NATHAN Uebergang is rapidly learning how to handle pressure.

The Brassall golfer is hoping to qualify for this week's Australian Masters at Huntingdale, Melbourne and has high expectations if he gets there.

"My goal is the top 10," Uebergang said.

"I guess it's lofty, but that's what I want and it's the kind of result I need."

He hopes to qualify via the pre-qualifying tournament at Amstel Golf Club today.

If he doesn't achieve his goal he will likely lose his Australian pro tour card.

The reason being he will not play again on the Australian tour this season.

That's because he is trying to qualify for the lucrative Japanese pro tour next year.

Uebergang is one step away from earning his spot after finishing 20th in the third round of qualifying at Shizu Hills, north of Tokyo, from November 11-14.

Having to finish in the top 28 from a field of 200 players, Uebergang was worried after his opening two rounds of 76 and 74 left him in 50th spot.

"I wasn't playing good golf and was really struggling," he said.

"I just told myself after the second day, 'let's get back to basics, just do the job, pick the shot and hit it'."

Uebergang made another adjustment after day two.

"I got a new lob wedge the week before," he said.

"It didn't come to my specifications, but I really needed it.

"They didn't cut the shaft length right."

After two days with the new club, Uebergang ditched it for his old faithful and the improvements were immediate.

"It worked a treat for the third and fourth rounds," he said.

Uebergang's third round 69 put him back where he needed to be.

"I knew I was inside the number (of qualifiers) and the fourth round was in my hands," he said.

A par 72 in the final round was enough.

"I started quite well (in the fourth round) and was confident," Uebergang said.

"The course had a really tough finishing stretch. Four of the last five greens have water carries.

"When your livelihood is on the line it tests your nerve.

"A lot of guys struggled with the pressure."

Uebergang chose to push the negatives from his mind and used the home stretch as preparation for what lies ahead.

"It is good training for when your game is under pressure," he said.

"I had to wait for the others to complete their final rounds, but I thought I should be safe.

"I saw some guys really slide down the leader board."

Uebergang returns to Japan to contest the final round of qualifying from December 3-8.

There he will play six rounds, if he makes the cut after the first four.

He needs to finish in the top 40 out of 220 players to earn his tour card.

"I couldn't care what happens in Australia if I get my Japan tour card. Over the next five years I'd love to establish myself in Japan," he said.

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