Jason Scrivener is yearning to find the switch that turns him into a regular winner just as American Tony Finau did this year at the same age of 33.
The Western Australian’s composed 65-67 start to the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship has given him every chance of finding out on an exciting weekend at Royal Queensland.
Scrivener has made 11 birdies and just a single bogey through his opening 36 holes to lead a high-quality field into the business end of the tournament at 10-under-par.
Finau had won just once in his first 188 starts on the PGA TOUR despite building a reputation for some quality finishes in the majors. He’s calmed the nerves and won four times in his past 30 starts. His whole mojo has been transformed.
“In a position to win a tournament, you want to know what you’ve got to do,” Finau said recently of experience in pressure finishes counting for a lot.
Scrivener is ready to extend himself to extract what it takes to win for the first time in five years. He’ll have to because the challengers will be coming from all quarters this weekend, including charging star Cameron Smith, who is just one stroke behind after his Friday 65.
When Scrivener won the 2017 NSW Open, many expected a career shift for the DP World Tour regular.
“I definitely thought it was going to be the start of something. It just shows that’s it’s difficult to win nowadays,” Scrivener said.
“You’ve got to play pretty flawless golf. The level of play out here is pretty high. It’s another opportunity this weekend and I’m looking forward to it.”
Second-placed Scrivener beat home now-world No.1 Rory McIlroy by a shot at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Championship but was still four behind English winner Tyrell Hatton. Tough to win, as he says.
Scrivener admitted to “a pretty average season by my standards” because his last individual top 10 was back in February. Flipping between Europe and the US in pursuit of a coveted PGA TOUR card did not aid the rhythm of the year.
“I just struggled on Sundays as well. I put myself in decent positions but just couldn’t put the finishing touches on the tournaments. It’s kind of nice to start fresh this week with a new season,” Scrivener said.
While fellow DP World Tour player Min Woo Lee is still battling jet lag, Scrivener has enjoyed three weeks rest and recuperation in his home state of WA.
Those energy levels will be a plus for sure when searching for the key to a winning Sunday.
“It’s probably more a mental thing, just putting way too much pressure on myself,” he said.
He will be unconcerned if 25-30 km/h breezes hit the riverside course intermittently as they did on Friday afternoon.
You don’t grow up in Mandurah without being comfortable playing in the wind.
Scrivener feels the course sets up well for his style of play. You don’t have to be a bomber off the tee to shoot six-under-par as he did in the opening round.
“It’s an approach-play course which is my strength. I’m obviously not the longest off the tee but I feel I can plot my way into the greens and be smart… and let the putter do its work,” he said.
In the second round, he found four birdies starting with a smart play on the short 292m par-4 12th, his third hole of the day. While Smith and Lee have cursed bogeys there on the opening two days when bombing at the green, Scrivener has found two birdies. He played short of the green, chipped superbly and sunk a short birdie putt to hit the solo lead there on Friday.
Scrivener is enjoying life away from the course with one-year-old son Felix. He’ll become a dad for a second time in February.
A win with a fizzing home crowd on hand would really embed his name up there with Australia’s top performers because he’s a better player than one top 10 in the PGA back in 2018 and an Australian Junior crown in 2007.
He’s all for the atmosphere from golf fans who have energised the Australian PGA with big galleries, especially at the TaylorMade Party Hole at the par-3 17th.
“It’s been awesome to see. On 17, it’s just a good atmosphere. I think people have been deprived of Australian golf and Cam and Scotty (Adam Scott) and all the guys coming home,” Scrivener said.
“It’s going to be a good weekend.”
It already is for fellow Western Australians Connor McKinney (71-67) and Hayden Hopewell (71-69) who both made the cut in their first event as professionals.