US MASTERS champion Adam Scott is the big name drawcard for the Australian Masters starting at Melbourne's Huntingdale course tomorrow but Sunshine Coast professional Steven Bowditch tees off following a superb year in which he has overshadowed his fellow Queenslander.
While the history-making Scott has gone winless through 11 months and slipped out of the world's top 10, Bowditch goes into the tournament after capturing the Byron Nelson Classic in May and almost doubling his US career earnings by banking $US3.7 million with 10 top-25 finishes.
Much has been written about Bowditch's personal battles with depression and the immense talent it threatened to destroy.
But at the age of 32, and with the help of his wife, family and close friends, that potential is finally starting to materialise with maturity.
Bowditch's ability to play the game has never really been questioned.
But the Presidents Cup captain's representative has discovered more consistency in his game in the past 18 months along with the ability to get himself through four mentally tough rounds without self-imploding.
"You're right, it's always been the way my career has gone," a candid Bowditch said when asked about his struggles and battles with consistency on the golf course.
"I guess it was just something I had to work on. I really had to sort of tone down in areas and not get so aggressive, and when the game is not going well, stop sort of pushing it a little bit.
"I guess there was a little more on the mental side I had to learn about. Still have to learn, obviously; you never stop learning about it."
That isn't the only change Bowditch has made since last playing in Australia. He has shed heaps of kilos after feeling his 114kg frame was hampering his game. "I was up to 250 pounds. I am now down to about 215lbs (97.5kg)," he said.
Bowditch admitted until he broke into the top 30 and made the Presidents Cup team this year he had not given the Australian Tour the attention it deserved.
"It's nice coming back and walking through here (Huntingdale) the whole way and see all the great Australian golfers that have won sitting there with the Masters jacket and the trophy," he said.
"But I am putting more emphasis on doing well at home this summer."
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