Canberra golfer Matt Millar. Photo: Richard Briggs
A ''disaster'' in Japan has shattered Matt Millar's confidence and the Canberra golfer is desperate to regroup for a top-10 finish at the Australian Open and vie for a spot on the lucrative European Tour.
Millar was left at the crossroads last week when his bid to make the Japan Tour was left in tatters after horrid luck in the Qualifying School event.
Instead of returning to Australia with his immediate future secure, Millar was left devastated.
If he finishes high enough at the Open, which begins at the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney on Thursday, Millar will go to Europe next year to try to win a Tour card.
If not, he will play the Pro-Am circuit around Australia - in which he finished at the top of the Order of Merit NSW this year - before relaunching himself overseas.
Millar couldn't hide his disappointment after his stumble in Japan.
He'd finished in the top 10 at the Australian Masters last month despite playing three rounds with a bad back and was confident he could earn a place on the Japan Tour.
''It's frustrating … on four different times I hit it into divots on the middle of the fairway … that doesn't happen in a whole year,'' Millar said. ''It was a shocker. It wasn't meant to be.
''I'd be lying if I said it didn't affect me - I spent the past two years preparing for this event and to not get through both times is hard.
''It's made me cranky and frustrated, but I'm going to get back to doing what I do, get things back to where they were [at the Australian Masters].''
Millar will be joined by a host of Canberrans playing for the Stonehaven Cup at the Lakes.
Brendan Jones has returned fresh from securing his place in the top three on the Japan money list, but arrived in Australia only on Tuesday morning and was battling a foot problem.
Mathew Smith earned his start when he won the qualifying tournament on Monday, firing an impressive 66 to win one of the last two spots up for grabs.
Former Royal Canberra champion Smith is based in the United States after finishing a four-year scholarship at Texas Tech University and turning professional last year.
Damon Welsford and Chris Campbell will also aim for glory when play begins on Thursday morning.
For Millar, it's a chance to erase the memory of the past week.
And he's proven he can match it with the best at Australia's top tournaments.
Millar will play ''bits and pieces'' of the OneAsia Tour next year and mix it with Pro-Am appearances.
He played in Europe three years ago, but opted to try to play in more tournaments closer to home to be with his young family.
The 36-year-old finished in a tie for 15th place at last year's Open.
''There's no reason why I can't play well and finish in the top 10 this year,'' Millar said. ''If I can do well and play the same at next week's Australian PGA, then I can sort of pick where I can go next year and if that's the case I'd probably choose to go back to Europe.
''I've had enough of the Japan thing for now. As long as it's at the two courses where the Qualifying School is, I don't think I'll get through.
''I think I can go back to Europe and give it a good crack.''