Matt Millar suffered a sharp stabbing pain in his back while in Port Macquarie two months ago. It couldn’t have come at a worse time as he was preparing to launch himself onto the Japanese golf tour.
To get onto the circuit he would need to secure his playing card. That’s no easy task. With a back injury, it was even more difficult: “With a degenerative back, the wear and tear aspect of golf isn’t great for your back,” says Matt.
Tiger Woods’ long and painful return to the top of professional golf is evidence of that.
At 43 years of age, Matt says it hasn’t been easy, physically or mentally.
“I try not to jump to particular conclusions but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to thinking about the impact that it might have on my career.”
After eight weeks of extensive treatment, he’s been able to return to playing. And the timing couldn’t be better as he takes his place in one of the world’s richest golf tournaments: The World Golf Championship in Shanghai.
The tournament has prize money of close to $15 million, and even the last placegetter walks away with $65,000.
But Matt is looking beyond this pay-day to the Japanese tour, which is attractive enough to lure him away from competing in the Australian Open.
There is no reason why he won’t succeed in Japan given his form since his breakthrough year in 2015. Since then, he has won two professional titles and been a contender in a number of other tournaments.
Matt made some adjustments mentally in the lead up to his breakthrough year while maintaining the sound technical aspects of his game.
It was a long time coming after leaving school to take up a PGA traineeship at Belconnen. As well as playing on the tour, he was one of Canberra’s leading coaches until be stopped coaching two years ago.
“I gave it away because I found I was spending too much time away from my family,” Matt says.
His success on the tour effectively made it possible financially to relinquish the coaching role. He now has a new lease on life after recovering from a potentially career-threatening injury and Matt says with some relief, “My back’s pulled up really well”.
Matt has plenty of supporters, given his battle to make a breakthrough on the circuit. Those same people will be hoping his successful ride continues well into his 40s.