Cullen focussed on PGA Tour card

2012 has been a season of ‘firsts’ for South Australian left-hander Nick Cullen – a breakthrough win at the Indonesia Open in the OneAsia Tour season opener in March, which also provided him with starts in Japan, he qualified for his first Open Championship at Royal Lytham and had a brush with the world number one along the way.

As September ticks down, Cullen has further goals in his sights for the remainder of the year including a date with destiny at the PGA Tour Qualifying School in November.

Nick Cullen Nick Cullen pictured with the Indonesia Open trophy (Credit: Paul Lakatos/World Sport Group)

Cullen is excited about the final few months of the year, where he will certainly be adding to his passport stamp collection, but you get the sense his schedule is being built around an assault on the PGA Tour Qualifying School in California from late November.

“I’m looking forward to a few weeks off after coming back from Korea (September’s High1 Resort Open).”

“I should get a start in the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and will head back after that to prepare for the Perth International, then the US Tour School in November.” he explained. “I’ve never played in Scotland so it should be interesting, awesome.”

Winning so early in the season helped Cullen in many obvious ways, boosting his bank balance by $180,000 and providing the comfort of a two year exemption, but it also allowed him set a playing schedule for the year.

Since March, Cullen has criss-crossed Asia, played tournaments in Japan and made a maiden appearance at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes in July after winning a position via the International Qualifying tournament at Kingston Heath early in the year.

Although he missed the cut by a shot, the experience of the Open was awesome.

“It’s always good when you play and you’ve got Tiger and Rickie and those sorts of guys walking around on the putting green. In the end though, it’s just another tournament. I didn’t play that great and wasn’t that nervous.”

“I played 5 holes with Rory McIlroy in one of the practice rounds. I had a good chat with him and he’s a really nice guy so that was good.” he said.

How does a virtual tour rookie from Adelaide in his first trip to Britain as a professional land a practice round with the World Number One?

“I had my name down with some Japanese guys then changed it to some of the Spanish guys, but I didn’t really want to play with Alvaro Quiros and have him outdriving me by 50 every hole.” he laughed. “So I put my name down with McIlroy, Greg Owen and Scott Pinckney.”

“Rory only played 5 holes with us then jumped across to 15. I’d never seen him play up close before so it was good to see what the best in the world was doing.”

As one of Australia’s best up and coming players, local fans will have the chance to see Cullen play in Perth but will then have to wait until the Australian Open at The Lakes and the PGA Championship at Coolum for his next appearances on home soil.

Good finishes in these two co-sanctioned OneAsia events could see Cullen top the Order of Merit, although this is not a driving motivation for him.

He is at peace with his decision to pursue the opportunities in Europe and prepare properly at home for the Tour School, instead of playing the extra tournaments in China and Korea that would have boosted his chances of taking out the Order of Merit.

That’s the beauty of the two year exemption in his eyes.

“I haven’t really taken advantage of that (all the opportunities) this year but I get some more good starts next year so hopefully I can do well then.”