West Australian Jason Scrivener felt like he was performing wonders in his “own little world” as he delivered the best nine holes of golf of his professional career to land a monster cheque at the Abu Dhabi Championship.
And the 31-year-old from Perth felt he owed a huge vote of thanks on his big day to his English “game changer” Dave Alred, the coach who once helped turn Jonny Wilkinson into a rugby kicking machine.
Scrivener covered the final back nine of the lucrative season-opening European Tour event, one of the biggest on the circuit, in just 29 shots on Sunday as he finished second only to England’s in-form Tyrrell Hatton.
Both men shot final rounds of 66 as Hatton ultimately won the massive 1,097,006 euros ($A1.7 million) first prize by four shots.
Yet for Scrivener, who picked up a cool runner’s-up cheque for 710,175 euros ($A1.1 million) for his best-ever finish in a European Tour event, the huge pay-day represented a welcome reward for the hard work he has ploughed into transforming his game over the past few months.
The Cape Town-born player hadn’t competed since a promising sixth-place finish in the Cyprus Open last November.
“I was in my own little world,” said Scrivener, still shaking his head in near-disbelief after his incredible run from the 10th hole of eagle, par, birdie, par, birdie, birdie, birdie, par, birdie.
“I got off to a good start then made a few soft bogeys (at the third, fourth and seventh holes) but my caddie and I just kept plugging away, just stuck with it and shot 29 on the back, which was pretty nice!”
He was particularly cool at the final hole when, after a wayward tee shot nearly ended up behind a desert rock, he still managed to fashion a birdie.
World no.219 Scrivener, whose previous best achievement was winning the NSW Open in 2017, hadn’t competed since a promising sixth-placed finish in the Cyprus Open in November.
But he hasn’t taken a day off from preparing, except for Christmas Day, while employing a new approach under his long game coach Liam James and performance guru Alred.
Alred is most celebrated as the man who helped Wilkinson hone his deadly goalkicking, which sank Australia in the 2003 World Cup final, yet he’s worked wonders in golf too with major winners like Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and Francesco Molinari.
“He’s been a game changer for me, really helped me,” said Scrivener, of the Brisbane-based Englishman Alred.
“We sat down 2 months before Christmas at the end of my season last year and he’s helped me such a lot, pushed me that bit extra to work that bit harder.”
It has been a hard slog for Scrivener, who lost his tour card in his debut season in 2015 but bounced back at qualifying school and enjoyed a breakthrough 2019 season, when he finished 32nd in the European rankings.
But 2020, as for so many players, proved a difficult year as he finished 109th in the Race to Dubai standings.
Now, though, he hopes to build on his excellent start to 2021 at this week’s Dubai Desert Classic.