Australian underdogs Andrew Dodt and Nick Cullen tee up in this week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational knowing one good week could change their lives.
While world No.4 Jason Day and former winner Adam Scott spearhead the Australian contingent at Firestone Country Club in the huge-money, no-cut, 77-man tournament, 1001-1 shots Dodt and Cullen are determined to make the most of rare opportunities.
Dodt, a two-time European Tour winner got into the field after winning the Thailand Classic in February while Cullen booked his ticket with his Australian Masters triumph late last year.
“It’s only my second World Golf event so I am still trying to get used to it all,” said Dodt, who also played in the 2010 WGC HSBC Champions event in China.
“I play regularly on the European tour but it’s obviously not as big as this.
“I just have to stay in my own bubble and do what I have to do without being distracted.”
The 29-year-old might find that easier than normal after drawing the lone single-player tee time over the first two rounds.
He spent time in a practice round with Day garnering as much advice as possible.
Dodt and Cullen can look to the example of young countryman Cameron Smith, who has leveraged a fifth place finish at a World Golf Championships event late last year to the point where he is set to earn a US PGA Tour card for next season.
“A big result here would be huge, it would just be big for my confidence,” said Dodt.
“Playing with Jason it is good to get a feel and a vibe for what level I need to get my game at.”
A hand injury has hampered Cullen’s preparation for the biggest start of his career.
Having only played once in nearly four months, where he withdrew after making the cut, the odds are stacked against him.
“I did a real good number on my left hand, bruising a metacarpal back in April hitting off golf mats at a driving range when the weather was a bit average,” said world No.318 Cullen.
“It is still bothering me a bit but this event is too big to not play.
He was glad not to be facing a shortened tournament this week.
“It’s just nice to be able to come into an event against the big boys with no cut and play with a bit of freedom, especially not having played much in the last few months.
“I think anyone playing these events has the ability to win it.
“I would love to be around Sunday and be up there competing for it.”