Braden Becker began 2018 by hitching a PMX camper trailer to the back of his Nissan Dualis and driving he and his girlfriend across the Nullabor; he could end the year with a first class ticket to the European Tour.
As the leaders largely trod water in the third round of the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines Resort on Saturday, Becker used an eagle at the par-5 12th to propel him to the equal best score of the day and move into a tie for sixth heading into the final round.
The plan at this stage is to pack the trailer again in January and head off on another cross-country adventure but if he can follow up his third round of 67 with something similar on Sunday he and girlfriend Hayley Bettencourt may have the opportunity to go global.
Forced to go through both stages of ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Q School this time last year, Becker began 2018 with limited status, using his off weeks to caddie for Hayley who is a professional golfer in her own right.
They drove 16,000 kilometres in two months chasing events on the Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series up and down the east coast, completing their journey with a round of the Nullabor Links, Hayley setting a new course record of 2-under on the 1,365 kilometre desert golf course.
“I thought I played really well and shot even,” said Becker.
“We bought the camper trailer only a week or so before deciding to come over to Victoria. It’s just a tent pull-out, it folds over off the top.
“It’s a good camper trailer, we really like it. We’ve got a nice queen-sized proper mattress in there; it’s actually really comfortable.
“It’s really good, it’s comfy, we love doing it, we love travelling around and we’re planning to do it again in January.
“We’ve just got to work out the details of where we’re going to be at what point and at what time.”
Hayley will once again carry for the bag for Braden on Sunday, using her experience playing the former Ladies Masters at Royal Pines to give her man any advantage she can on one of Australian golf’s biggest stages.
“She’s played the Ladies Masters here and is a top golfer herself. She’s played it a bunch of times and always told me how tough it is,” said the 26-year-old former trainee at Mandurah Country Club.
“She’s won amateur events in almost every state so she’s a really good golfer in her own right so I have no issues trusting her game and how I should be playing the golf course.
“She’s given me a hell of a lot of good advice around here so that’s been handy.
“There have definitely been occasions in previous weeks where I’ve been playing pretty good and all of a sudden I’ll hit a couple of bad shots and you lose your head a little bit.
“She’s there to remind you what we really want.”
Second at the SP PNG Golf Open in April, Becker won four pro-ams in the West Australian swing and did enough to retain his card for next year.
He has offered to return to Q School to caddie for a mate in two weeks’ time but knows what a good finish on Sunday will mean for his own prospects in 2019.
“This is my first Aussie PGA, it was my first Aussie Open so it’s a whole new feeling for me,” Becker explained.
“I’m sitting 48th currently on the Order of Merit and coming into the week I thought if I made the cut and had a decent number I’ll make enough money to stay inside top 50. Top 50 should get me into Vic Open, World Super 6 Perth, NZ Open, all the big ones at the start of the year that I didn’t get to play this year.
“That was the real goal at the start of the week but we’re in day three and I’ve had a good one today so who knows.
“Hopefully I’ll have another good one tomorrow and if I don’t it’s not a big loss either.
“I’m just really happy with the way the year’s gone and anything else from here is a bonus.”