CHARLESTOWN club professional Ryan Smith believes his student Brayden Petersen’s breakthrough victory at the NSW Regional Championships on Sunday was the result of his rapidly improving mental toughness.
Petersen completed a stellar double by sharing victory in the seniors and winning the junior division of the regional championships held at Shelley Beach and Gosford golf clubs.
The 17-year-old’s performance also helped Newcastle retain the Jim Baker Shield, awarded to the premier district in northern NSW.
In atrocious conditions on Saturday at Shelley Beach Petersen shot six-over 77 and then backed up in calmer weather at Gosford with 74 to share victory with Central Coast’s Michael Bowditch.
Toronto’s Callan O’Reilly and Stonebridge’s Josh Knott tied for third place two shots behind with 78 and 75.
Petersen’s inaugural senior regional title capped off an impressive year which has included victories at the Wagga Wagga Junior Masters and the Lake Macquarie Junior Classic and selection in the NSW All Schools team to play at nationals in Perth next week.
However, that dominance has all been at a junior level.
‘‘His mental game has improved as he’s become more mature,’’ Smith said.
‘‘The more experience he gets in playing in these types of events now like the Vardon events against the older guys, not just juniors, that’s really starting to help him.’’
The year 12 Hunter Sports High student’s growing fairway smarts were needed during the opening day at regionals.
While the strong winds left many respected golfers submitting cards beginning with the number ‘‘8’’, Petersen was not rattled by a double bogey on his opening fifth hole.
‘‘It was really tough conditions on the first day at Shelley Beach,’’ Petersen said.
‘‘It just blew a hurricane all day.
‘‘On some holes I was aiming 50 metres to the right just for it to come back on the fairway and let the wind bring it back.
‘‘You just had to play with the wind as you couldn’t play against it.’’
Petersen flies to Perth on Sunday, joined by Forster’s Jack Delaney, for his second tilt at the Australian All Schools Championships and he could not be more excited.
‘‘The win at regionals was a pretty big confidence-booster going into next week,’’ he said.