Millar masters the pain
Matthew Millar. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
The worse the pain in Matt Millar's back got, the better he seemed to play.
So much so, he played his way into equal sixth in the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath on Friday.
Fellow Canberran Chris Campbell has also moved into the top 10 and was equal ninth.
For the last 10 holes, Millar received treatment on the course and every shot was a battle through the ''throbbing sort of pain'' that would ''then just stab you'' in the back.
Despite that, he shot five-under for the day to finish four-under par, six shots adrift of leader Matthew Guyatt.
Millar had more treatment after his round and was hopeful he'd be able to take advantage of the position he's put himself in on Saturday.
It's not just a tilt at the Australian Masters on the line, but he has tour school coming up in two weeks for a spot in the Japan Tour.
His back injury couldn't have come at a worse time.
''I hope [I can play on], it'd be a shame to not be able to play in this position,'' Millar told The Canberra Times.
''I'll go in [for some treatment], the boys here are excellent at what they do so I'll get in there, get them to have a go now and see if I can get some sort of painkillers or something.
''The next couple of weeks is important golf so it's not good timing.''
Ironically, the agony in his back might have helped him shoot the best score of the day.
Millar was so focused on it, he had no time to worry about anything else.
A few scrambling holes where he saved par early in his round also helped.
''I think it did [help]. I wasn't really aware of how I was scoring, I was just trying to play each shot and get it in play and get it on the green if I could and try and putt,'' Millar said.
''I putted really well, which was good.''
While Millar was struggling around the course, Campbell spent Friday afternoon on the driving range trying to bring the ''crispness'' back to his game.
The Canberra golfer shot an even-par 72 to put him eight shots behind Aussie Guyatt.
He said he hadn't played well on the first two days, but was hoping to find his touch going into the final two rounds on the weekend.
Campbell said it was a tough golf course that forced you to hit good shots if you wanted a low score - you couldn't play defensively or ''fluke'' your way around.
After a disappointing Japan Tour last year, Campbell took a year off rather than go to tour school and earn his card back.
Instead, he played a few tournaments in Australia and Japan, as well as a few OneAsia events.
He'll try to get his card back at the Japan Tour school in two weeks.
But the 36-year-old isn't looking at the Masters as a warm-up - he wants to do well on the Melbourne sandbelt as well.
''If you're scrapping shots around a bit, it's really hard over 72 holes to keep doing it so I'll be hitting a few balls this afternoon just trying to find a little something that I've been missing over the last few days,'' Campbell said.
The final Canberran left in the field, Damon Welsford - the partner of Campbell's sister Nikki - shot five-over and missed the cut at 10-over par.