Macau Championship – China

Nick had his second win in as many tournaments in the PGA Tour China Macau Championship held between the 27th and 30th September at Caesars Golf Macau.

Nick had rounds of 66, 72, 65 and 66 to finish at 15 under, 2 shots clear of Trevor Sulman. The eagle on the par 5 17th put him in the lead and he never looked back.

This win has catapulted him up to third on the Order of Merit. The top five on the Order of Merit earn tour cards onto the tour in the USA. Nick will play in the final two tournaments on the PGA Tour China this year before heading back to the US.

In Nick’s words…..

Getting on the PGA Tour is the ultimate aim, so I just need to keep improving and getting better.

When I started at the Suzhou Open (a tie for fourth), I just wanted to earn a Tour card here. Then after Qinhuangdao (where I won my first professional title), I wanted to get into the top 10. Now I think I can stay in the top five, so I’m excited for Zhuhai to hopefully keep things going.

If I spend a year on Web, and I continue developing and progressing, I think with where my game is and where I’m trending, I’ve got the stuff for the PGA Tour, so that’s the ultimate ambition.

I’ll be working my butt off until that happens.

Media links:

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Shinhan Donghae Open – South Korea

Nick got a sponsors exemption to play in the Shinhan Donghae Open in Incheon, South Korea between the 13th and 16th of September. This tournament has been played annually in South Korea since 1981 and in 2018 was a co sanctioned event between the Asian PGA Tour and the Korean PGA Tour.

Nick had another strong week finishing third on 15 under after four rounds in the 60’s – 68, 68, 68 and 65. The winner was Sanghyun Park from South Korea who finished on 22 under – it really was Sanghyun’s week – he only had two bogeys all week.

The tournament was played at the Jack Nicklaus designed Bears Best Cheongna Golf Club.

Watch the round four highlights here – ignore the bit about Nick being from Australia 🇦🇺 🙄

Round Four Highlights

After three great weeks up in Asia, Nick spoke to Phil Tataurangi, a fellow NZ professional golfer on Radio Sport and was also interviewed by Newshub – click on the links to listen and read the articles below.

Tee Time with Phil Tataurangi and guest Nick Voke on the Asia Tour -Radio Sport – 18 September 2018

Scroll forward to the 29th minute for the interview 😊

Kiwi Nick Voke targets US tour card after golden month in Asia – Newshub – 20 September 2018

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Qinhuangdao Championship – China

Nick posted his first win as a professional at the Qinhuangdao Championship held at the Qinhuangdao Poly Golf Club between the 6th and 9th of September.

He had rounds of 71, 70, 69 and 66 to be 12 under and tied with Stephen Lewton of England. They both parred the first playoff hole which was the Par 3 18th. They then played the eighteenth hole again with Nick sinking a 17 foot putt for birdie and securing his first win.

After a great two weeks in China he is currently sitting 13th on the Order of Merit. At the end of the season the top five on the PGA Tour China Order of Merit get playing status on the tour in the USA. The top ten are exempt into the final stage of the Tour Qualifying tournament from the 6th to the 9th of December. Those ranked between eleven and twenty five get an exemption into the second stage of the tour qualifying tournament.

Given the above there is a lot to play for in the final three tournaments of the year:

Macau Championship – Caesars Golf Macau – 27 to 30 September

Zhuhai Championship – Orient Golf Club, Guangdong – 4 to 7 October

Clearwater Bay Open – The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club – 11 to 14 October

Victorious Voke – NZ Golf – 9 September 2018

Nick Voke Prevails in Playoff in PGA China-Series – NZ Golf Digest – 10 September 2018

Video – the winning putt 😊

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Suzhou Open – China

Nick played in the Suzhou Open between the 30th August and 2nd September. This tournament was held at the Gary Player designed Jinji Lake International Club in Suzhou which is west of Shanghai.

The tournament had a few weather delays but was eventually won by Canada’s Richard Jung who finished on 21 under. Nick had a great tournament and finished tied for fourth on 17 under – he shot 7 under in his final round.

In Nick’s own words….

I was fortunate enough to get a sponsors exemption into the Suzhou Open – an event on the PGA Tour of China. The PGA Tour of China is a feeding tour for the tour (as well as the Canadian and Latin-American tours) and many view it as the best opportunity to secure status on the tour. In order to secure status, I would have to play a whole season. In my current situation, I was just happy enough to get the call up and put this tournament on my schedule!

I played fantastically. I don’t think I have ever hit the ball as good as I did this week. For the stat nerds out there – I averaged 12.8 (91%) of my Fairways and hit 15 greens in regulation (GIR). Eight of these greens in regulation were within 15 feet. Those are world-class numbers and I am thrilled to see progress in the areas of my game that I have been working on the most.

I had a great discussion with coach Chad Keohane in the week leading up to this event and we talked about a few key movement patterns that I should focus on – by simplifying it all into a few drills and using the ball flight as a measure of how well I was executing the drill, I was able to get a really good feel for the week. To compliment the ball striking, my putting inside 10 feet was rock solid (which is arguably my strength). It was a great week where things started to click – the challenge ahead of me now is seeing how well I can maintain what I am doing during this trip.

I am a little further north this week, at the Qinhuangdao Championship (also on the PGA Tour of China). Following this week is the Donghae Open in Korea (Asian Tour) and the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup (Asian/Japenese Tour). Lots of good golf ahead!

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Northern Territory PGA Championship – Australia

Nick played in the Northern Territory PGA Championship between the 16th and 19th August 2018.

The inaugural event was held at Palmerston Golf Course, Palmerston, Northern Territory, Australia in August 2016. It is a Tier 2 event on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Nick finished in a tie for 40th on 2 under. The tournament was won by Australian, Daniel Nisbet who finished on 19 under.

In Nick’s words…

Darwin was a pleasant suprise. The PGA of Australasia had sent out an email warning us about the condition of the Palmerston Golf Course after it had been extensively damaged by Cyclone Marcus in March 2018. After speaking with some of my fellow competitiors, they all agreed that the course was fair and playable. Some of the greens were damaged and an estimated 500 trees had been removed but the course was better than we had all expected.

I didn’t play all that great. It is imperative at the Palmerston Golf Course to find fairways as the course is tight and lined with trees and wasteland. Unfortunately for me, I was fighting a few things in my golf swing and spent a bit too much time in the dirt! A few of my normal tendencies came out and as a result I didn’t give myself enough opportunites at a straight forward shot into the green – I had lots of practice hitting high hooks and low cuts into greens though!

There is one shot that I will remember for a while though – a high hook 60 degree wedge over some trees and onto the green from a concrete collection area within a hazard with the ball 2 feet below my feet. That was fun and a little lucky 🍀 😊. My round turned into a highlight reel of “how did I just make par?” I was proud of the amount of the grit that I showed out there and let’s just say that my one under par finish in the final round was one of my more efficient rounds of the year.

I’ve got a nice week off here in Auckland before heading up to Asia for an exciting month of golf. I’ve been fortunate enough to get two starts on the PGA Tour of China followed by two starts on the Asian Tour in Korea and Japan. There is lots of good golf ahead and plenty more learning opportunities!

Fairways and Greens.

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Fiji International – Fiji

Nick played in the Fiji International at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course between the 2nd and 5th August 2018.

This tournament continues to have a global presence confirming its position as an integral tournament in the South Pacific region, with the tournament being tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and Asian Tour.

Nick started well being tied for 5th after the first two rounds, unfortunately he didn’t go so well in the third round and finished the tournament in a tie for 33rd on even par. The winner was Gaganjeet Bhullar from India who finished on 14 under.

In Nick’s own words…

After a few months slugging away at the mini tour events in the United States, I headed to Fiji for the Fiji International. It was nice getting back to an actual tour event – the organisation of the events, the condition of the courses and the level of competition is much better on tour!

The event was held at the demanding Natadola Bay Golf Course. It is one of the more intimidating golf courses we play all year – the fairways are lined with hazards, the elevation changes are spectacular and the wind howls off the ocean. Lets just say that it is very easy to spray a few balls out of play.

With Devin on the bag I got off to a fantastic start – I was 5 under through the first 36 holes and in a tie for 5th place. I was pretty happy with how patient and optimistic I was staying out there – I was hitting decent golf shots and rolling the rock nicely. The odd mistake here and there wasn’t fazing me too much and I was happy with the game plan we had formulated.

Unfortunately the 3rd round wasn’t as kind as the previous 2 rounds. I played the first 6 holes well – I was 1 over par but playing much better than the score indicated. I then played holes 7 to 12 at 5 over par. It was a combination of hitting a poor golf shot at the wrong time and making some mental mistakes – hitting the wrong club, taking the wrong line, miscalculating the wind etc.. Golf can be a very brutal game at times and my 6 over par 78 in the 3rd round is proof of that.

I finished off the tournament with back-to-back birdies to finish the event at even par and in a tie for 33rd.

A fantastic exerience and result with all things considered. It was my first European Tour event and there was a lot of hype around it. I thought I managed myself well enough to contend, I’ve just got to sharpen up on my ball striking when I next find myself on the front page of the leaderboard on moving day!

I’m back in Auckland for the week before heading up to Darwin for the Northern Territory PGA. One of my goals for this year is to finish in the top 15 on the order of merit on the PGA of Australasia Tour and these events are an important part of that goal. The next couple of months will include some events in Asia and the qualfiying school back in the United States.

Fairways and Greens!

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Life on the road…..

If you are not on a main tour like the PGA or European Tour, the life of a professional golfer consists of hotel rooms, practice rounds and millions of miles in your car going from stop to stop.  I feel like I’ve spent my last 3 weeks living out of my car; 6 hour drives twice a week going from a Web Monday qualifier to a mini tour event to the next Web Monday qualifier.  I’m grateful that my trusty 2001 Toyota Corolla has made it this far!

It all started back in Chicago for the first Web Monday where I qualified for the Rust-Oleum Championship.  The week was awesome and it was everything that I had hoped the tour would be.  It wasn’t the biggest event that I had played in but it was certainly large enough to get me outside of my comfort zone.  I found there was so much going on that week that I didn’t expect or even contemplate – additional forms to file, product representatives to collaborate with, family passes to organize etc…  It was mentally draining to simply be there for the week.  A big Monday qualifier with lots to do Tuesday and Wednesday.  My game felt good heading into the tournament and I was 1 under par through 6 holes.  With danger lurking around the corner however, I got very intimidated by a few tee shots and played quite timid and defensive; my usual tendencies came out and I wasn’t fresh enough to bounce back as well as I would have liked.  My first missed cut as a professional but plenty to take away from the week with me.

After the Web event and a couple of days to recallibrate, I headed up to Minneapolis to a golf course called North Oaks for some practice and a practice round for an event I would play later that month (the only time that I could fit it into the schedule).  Practice rounds are a very important thing, they gives us an opportnity to plan the best way of attacking a golf course and something I will always do – even if the only time to do so is two weeks before an event.

After a successful couple of days, I drove down to Wichita in Kansas for the next Web Monday qualifier.  I teed off in the early afternoon with the wind getting up and plenty of low numbers already posted.  I played fine but nothing great – 1 under par but 6 shots back on getting into a playoff. The Web Monday qualifiers are historically some of the hardest to get through because you can go out and shoot 7 under par and lose in a playoff.  It is brutal!

After Kansas, I drove another couple of hours south to Tulsa in Oklahoma. There is a mini tour event called the Adams Tour – they host some pretty good golf tournaments for guys in between events and wanting to peg it up for 72 holes.  I was playing well through 36 holes – I was tied 3rd at 11 under and feeling pretty good.  Similar to the couple of weeks before this however, a few bad misses came out at the wrong time over the weekend and I was severly penalised.  I ended up 10 under for the event and tied 37th. A rough finish to a great start.

Taking the positives out of the first couple of rounds, I drove up to St. Louis in Missouri for the next Web Monday qualifier. We had perfect conditions in the early morning and I was 7 under par through 14 holes.  I got off to a great start but then hit a bad tee shot off the par 3 15th and made a sloppy bogey.  On the par 3 17th hole, knowing that I needed at least one birdie coming home, I hit a beautiful 8 iron to about 9 feet and rolled in the birdie put.  On the last hole, I had a short putt for par that would have got me into a playoff at 7 under but I hyped myself up too much for it and failed to focus on my thought on the greens for the week – I missed it right and had a long drive ahead of me to ponder how it all unfolded like that.

Following the short miss on the last hole, I drove 9 hours back up to Minneapolis for that small event I had already had a practice round for.  I was absolutely shattered when I arrived in the early morning.  I took all of Tuesday off and then pegged it up on Wednesday in the North Oaks Professionals Cup.  Again I got off to a hissing start being 6 under par through 12 holes.  Theres an old adage to “take one shot at a time” but my mind was racing to all sorts of crazy low scores with 6 holes to play with three of them being par fives.  I think the travel was starting to take it’s toll on me because I came home very poorly – 3 over in the last 6 holes to shoot 3 under and lose by 1 shot. Another really tough finish after putting myself in a fantastic position atthe begining.

There have been a lot of close calls over the past month or so – I am working extremely hard but am always coming up just that little bit short.  I feel this is a pivotal position to be in and I’ll continue to grit it out and grind as hard as I can and ALL OF A SUDDEN, one day, in the near future, I know that it will all click and come together for me.  It’s an exciting prospect and one I’m eager to continue working hard for!

I have a week off here in Ames to recover, recap and recalibrate before heading back out on the road.  On the horizon for me is another Web Monday, a PGA Tour Monday (the John Deere Classic) and a mini tour event (the Waterloo Open). I’m excited to continue learning and developing and I’m sure that some great success is just around the corner! The next big event for me is the FIJI International on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

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