JAKE Higginbottom hopes his form on the greens will help him retain his Asian Tour spot early, and pave the way for a shot at a European card, when he returns to overseas competition.
The Charlestown product, home on a break between Asian Tour events, shot a 10-under 134 (68-66) at the Gold Coast Celebrity Pro Am at Lakelands to tie for second and collect just under $13,000 on April 4-5.
The effort came after the 25-year-old finished the co-sanctioned Indian Open with a 68 to grab a tie for 27th and $US16,100. That performance came after a tie for 18th at the Singapore Open and two missed cuts on the Asian Tour, where he has competed for five years.
He sits 34th on the tour's order of merit heading into the $US1 million Maekyung Open at Namseoul Country Club in South Korea from May 2, which is followed by the $US1.3 million Asia Pacific Diamond Cup Golf at Sobu Country Club in Japan.
Higginbottom fell off the tour for one year after finishing 86th in 2015 but he has otherwise made the top 60 cut to keep his card. Coming off his best season finish of 41st, he hopes to lock in his card early this year so he can afford to miss later events while trying his luck at the European Tour qualifying school.
"I'm starting to find a little bit of form so hopefully I can keep it going for the whole year and not have to do it the hard way this year," Higginbottom said. "I played nice on the Gold Coast, shooting 10 under for two rounds, which is pretty solid.
"I didn't play great the first three rounds at the Indian Open but it was a nice finish on a tough day which was good.
"The goal is to wrap my card up before October, or around there, so I can go to the European tour school."
He said encouraging recent results came from improvements on the green.
"I played the week before in Malaysia and missed the cut by one," he said. "I actually didn't play too bad, I just did put the ball in the hole, so I just tried to focus on my putting for India the next week and I definitely putted a lot better.
"I've actually started to hole a few putts the last couple of weeks. I didn't really hit it any better, but I had a few 15, 20-footers go in."
** Corey Lamb was the best of the Hunter players at the 72-hole Australian Junior Amateur at Southport last week with a seven-over 291 for tied 26th.
** Spots are still available in the annual Newcastle district schoolboys and schoolgirls championships on April 26 at Nelson Bay.
The Newcastle district junior pennants title started at Belmont on Monday and will continue at Waratah then Pacific Dunes this week.
** Toronto's David Alexander was seven shots clear with a course record 66 to claim the Tanilba Bay Cup on April 4.