Golf: James Nitties back on course after lean two years

IN THE ZONE: James Nitties lines up a putt at the World Super 6 tournament last week. Picture: PGA Australia
IN THE ZONE: James Nitties lines up a putt at the World Super 6 tournament last week. Picture: PGA Australia

JAMES Nitties admits he questioned whether he was “still good enough” to earn a living as a professional golfer and contemplated getting “a job”.

The 35-year-old former US PGA tour player has experienced lean times since losing his playing status on the US second tier Web.com tour at the end of 2015.

“There are lot of good golf pros going through tough times, not getting in events,” Nitties said.

“You always have those feelings: Am I still good enough? Should I get a job? Members at local clubs asking why are playing terrible … all that sort of stuff. Deep down, you know you are good enough.”

Any doubts Nitties – or the golfing world – had about his ability were wiped after he finished second at the $1.75m World Super 6 Perth on Sunday.

The Charlestown right-hander collected $181,101 in prize money and improved his world ranking 623 places to 401.

“Not only does it re-enforce your own belief, it lets people know that you are still working really hard and trying to make it back to the next level again,” Nitties said. “This week I played well all week bar the second round, which was a tough round for everyone. The putter worked well I changed my putting stroke before the Australian Open. After a while I starting getting confident with it and trusting it. It was good to see some putts fall.”

The Perth event was co-sanctioned with the European and Asian tours and had Nitties he would have gained automatic playing rights on both circuits.

“It doesn’t really change my year,” Nitties said. “First place would have. Unfortunately I am not a member of the European Tour. It just helps the money issues, not worrying week to week and being able to do more US PGA qualifiers. You never know, I could do what I did last week. I am a member of both those tours and my money would count.”

The rich Perth purse shot Nitties to the top of the Australiasian Order of Merit after three events.

”The goal is to try and finish as high as I can on the money list,” Nitties said. “That can open a lot of doors. Every dollar counts. That is my main goal, that would open finals stage possibilities in Europe and America, which is where I want to be.”

Next for Nitties is the $125,000 Queensland PGA, starting in Toowoomba on Thursday where he is one of seven Novocastrians im the field alongside Nick Flanagan, Cal O’Reilly, Aaron Townsend, Jamie Hooke, Clayton Bridges and amateur Dylan Perry.

“I have played there in the past couple of years and finished 11th last year,” Nitties said. “It is a little different to the course last week. It is tight and a lot softer. You will have to go deep. If the weather is good you nearly need around the 18-to-22 under to win.”