Thriving … Oliver Goss. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
GRAEME McDOWELL and Adam Scott can both remember the jangling nerves as each stepped up for their first tee shot playing as the emerging youngster sandwiched in a group with two tournament headliners.
In his own words, McDowell was ''shitting himself'', while the picturesque surrounds of Kingston Heath reminded Scott of his first time in a marquee group - the Australian Open in 2000, when he walked the same fairways with Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby.
But on day one of this year's Australian Masters at Kingston Heath, McDowell and Scott were the stars, and eighteen-year-old amateur Oliver Goss was the rising upstart, standing over his ball with driver in hand, preparing to show two of his heroes that he was worthy of their company.
''I just thought I would hit it as hard as I could and it went perfect, smoked it down the middle,'' a relieved Goss said of his tee shot at the 10th hole (his first).
Unfortunately for Goss, that drive was easy to relive, for he had already shut out most of the others. ''I thought I played horrendously off the tee. I haven't hit it that bad in years,'' he said.
The West Australian swears his rusty play off the tee had nothing to do with nerves, either from the galleries following the drawcard group, or the drawcards themselves. ''I actually sort of thrive off the big crowds. It makes me not get angry at myself … it stops you from doing something that will make you look like an idiot,'' he said.
Playing with Scott and McDowell was a crash course in everything coaches had drilled into him for five years. ''To actually see it in person was just awesome,'' he said. ''I learnt that Adam Scott is the greatest ball striker I have ever seen. He hits it so good and so straight, it was just unbelievable.''
Scott was having a good day in what were perfect conditions during the morning rounds. His five under par 67 was good for the lead early in the day, before he was overtaken.
However, it wasn't as if Goss was holding up the threesome. His one under par has him equal with McDowell, the 2010 US Open winner. What the youngster lacked off the tee - he hit only seven out of 15 fairways - he made up for closer to the green.
If the measure of a good player is to stay afloat when there are leaks in the boat, then surely Goss has a future, and Scott had no reservations in pointing that out.
''I'm very impressed. He just managed to make par from everywhere today,'' Scott said. ''He handled [the pressure] pretty well out there. He knows how to get it around, obviously, and that is a good asset to have at a young age.''
Goss admitted he had to keep ''scrambling and scrambling'' to keep his round from falling apart and the hard-working teenager headed straight to the driving range afterwards to iron out the creases in his long game.
Having won the Western Australian Amateur Open to cap off a satisfying year, Goss will move on to the Australian Open in Sydney next month after this week's Masters.
He has no plans to turn professional for at least another year - probably two - with Goss steadfast in his belief that going to college in the US is the right path for him.
Regardless of how he finishes at Kingston Heath, the experience of playing alongside Scott and McDowell has been a great source of motivation. ''It's helped me realise that I am closer than I thought, just being able to hang with these guys,'' he said.