Two months ago, Paul Bucan was a workaholic with an itch.
Today he stands on the verge of his first national golf title at the Australian Mid-Amateur Championship in Sydney.
Bucan, 30, fired an even-par 72 at Lynwood Country Club to maintain his six-shot advantage heading into tomorrow’s final round.
The Perth engineer, a fly-in-fly-out worker in Western Australia’s far north for years, quit his job two months ago to “enjoy his life a little more” and get back to his golf.
With a lot of rounds at his Royal Fremantle home course under his belt, Bucan headed east to “just see where my game stood”.The result is resoundingly positive, despite an icy putter.
“I wouldn’t say it’s dominant, but it is consistent,” Bucan said after a bogey on his last hole – the 9th – cost him a second consecutive sub-par round after an opening 68.
“I hit 15 greens (in regulation) yesterday and another 14 today … with most of them inside 10-12 feet (3-4m), but I just couldn’t make a putt.“I think if I’d putted better I was playing well enough to have something like a 65, but I’m really happy with how I’m hitting the ball.”
Bucan, a realist who knows his one handicap is not yet up to pro standards, is still keen to figure out exactly where his golf could take him.
“I haven’t given up on it (turning pro) completely, but I don’t want to do it and just be another battling player and have to regain my amateur status again,” said Bucan, who’d been a two-game-a-month golfer in Port Hedland while on duty.
“I’d never taken golf seriously until recently – it was always just work first – and golf was for fun.
“But it’s good … to hit the ball consistently after spending a bit of time on it.”
Bucan leads defending champion and Queenslander Damien Jordan by six strokes, while New South Welshman John McMiles is third a further shot back.
In the concurrent women’s Mid-Amateur championship, Gemma Dooley took the lead after firing a nine-over par 81 in today’s second round.Dooley is five shots clear of overnight leader and fellow New South Wales golfer Kim Burke, who endured a tough 88 to share second with 2011 Champion Katrina Jones, of Queensland, who also shot 81 today.
Hot temperatures are predicted for tomorrow with Sydney’s west tipped to reach 40 degrees, with play to start half an hour earlier to avoid the heat of the day.