SPORTS

Champ Jeffress Confident

It’s been a big 12 months for Steven Jeffress and it all began when he hit the very first shot of the inaugural Fijian International. A Tour professional for 13
18 Aug 2015 11:08
Champ Jeffress Confident
2014 Fijian International champion Steven Jeffress.

It’s been a big 12 months for Steven Jeffress and it all began when he hit the very first shot of the inaugural Fijian International.

A Tour professional for 13 years, Jeffress was a regular on the PGA Tour of Australasia and often featured on tournament leaderboards. He had even competed in a major championship, The Open in 2013.

Jeffress was bestowed the honour of hitting the very first tee shot of the Fijian International, ensuring he would always hold a place in the history books, no matter how he fared on course over the next 72 holes.

However, that tee-time seemed to be a stroke of genius from tournament organisers as Jeffress also went on to hit the very last shot of the tournament, the winning putt on the October 18h on Sunday afternoon.

“It was obviously a massive honour to be able to hit the first tee shot and to be able to hit the last shot made it better obviously because I won,” said Jeffress.

“But even if I hadn’t won, hitting the first tee shot in a brand new event, only one person can do that and I was lucky enough that it was me.

“It was sort of a fairytale tournament for me.”

Since then Jeffress has competed in some of the biggest tournaments in international golf, played some of the most famous and hallowed courses in the world and rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous. Opportunities all opened up to him from winning the Fiji International.

“Things are different, on a personal level at home, winning a good amount of money has made a massive difference to my position in life with house payments and those sorts of things,” said Jeffress who picked up over AU$190,000 for his victory.

“On the golf course everything has changed just that little bit; it’s hard to explain because I have never done it before.

“There is a new level of respect from other people at tournaments and they always mention the win, so it keeps the positive feelings coming back and I guess you get to relive it a couple of times.

“But the opportunities I have received are amazing; I get to play the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and the WGC – HSBC Champions at the end of the year. Plus, I have already played the WGC – Cadillac Championship and I received an invite to the Japan Tour Championship. So the win is definitely giving me opportunity and that is what you are really after in this game.”

While he may now have the opportunity to compete in those four tournaments which combined are worth more than AU$33 million, Jeffress has stayed true to his roots.

One of the most humble men on Tour, he is always popular with other players and fans and has continued to compete successfully in Pro-Am in Queensland which according to Jeffress has helped keep his game sharp.

“Even though you win good money you can’t shut up shop because money goes out pretty quickly in this game,” added Jeffress, alluding to the expense of travelling the world to compete in golf tournaments.

“You can win some good money if you play well enough in Pro-Ams and if you enter with the right attitude.

“But they also show you where your game is at and I’ve been playing quite nicely, I won a couple of events a few weeks ago. But I felt like I left a lot out there.”

Jeffress will soon turn his attention back to the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course as he is set to defend his Fijian International title.

“I love Fiji, even if I hadn’t won last year I would be looking forward to going back there,” Jeffress said.

“Obviously going back as the champion makes it special and I’m sure when I get back to Natadola a few of those memories of where I hit the ball will come back to me and the feelings on certain parts of the course.

“Deep down I’m actually really confident of giving the title another crack this year. I think the golf course suits my game, you need to hit it straight and be fairly strategic.

“Hopefully, when it comes to the last day I am in with a chance to win,” added Jeffress who along with the extra attention of being the defending champion will enjoy the benefits of staying at the InterContinental Resort.

“I’ve only heard great things about the Resort, so I can’t wait to get over there and check it out and enjoy being so close to the golf course.

“I really don’t think the week is going to be that different to a normal tournament other than people reminding me that I am the defending champion. That is where the mental side of the game comes in and I just have to stay in the moment.

“I’m the defending champion but that was last year and this is this year so let’s go again.”

 

Big name to over come

While Steve Jeffress is confident ahead of his Fijian International title defence he will have at least one big name to overcome in doing so.

In a huge coup for the tournament world number 16 Matt Kuchar from the United States has signed onto compete in 2015.

Kuchar ,who will compete in the Presidents Cup the week before will head to Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course, determined to show Fiji why he is one of the best players in the world but also a fan favourite where ever he visits.

“I’m excited to be competing in the Fiji International, as I’ve heard great things about Natadola Bay and the area itself,” said Kuchar who is engaging, relatable, likeable and always with a smile on his face.

“As I’m enjoying the challenge on the course, I know my family will be enjoying a variety of different activities the location has to offer.”

 Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj

 

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