Stieger back in the winner’s circle

The last few weeks have been tough for Matt Stieger yet the boy from Narrabri, a small bush town in north west New South Wales, is not a quitter.

Recent events are a thing of the past with 20-year-old Stieger securing the Monash Masters title yesterday for his first win since collecting the Western Australian Amateur last April.

Matt Stieger Matt Stieger (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Monash Country Club is notorious for its slick greens and tight fairways but Stieger held his composure during the 36-hole contest to claim his fourth amateur title, winning on the first play-off hole against Troy Moses after the pair finished at 1-under-par.

Fellow St Michael’s teammate Ben Clementson, winner of the recent NSW Cup, enjoyed another stellar tournament finishing in 3rd position at 3-over-par.

The win at Monash, which added to Stieger’s 2011 Australian Amateur and Tasmanian Open titles, was not only timely, but showed Stieger’s self belief and never say die attitude.

A week back on the farm driving the tractor, clearing the cobwebs and refuelling the competitive passion had been the perfect antidote to break Stieger’s winless drought and help put aside recent issues with the golfing administration following events at the Riversdale Cup last month.

“To be honest a few weeks back I’d had enough of the game and didn’t touch a club and just went back to the farm,” said Stieger.

“I’d come through a rough patch, was in need of a break and home was the perfect place to go to. It cleared my head. I had a chat to my coach John [Serhan] and returned refreshed. It’s my first win since the Western Australian Amateur and it’s great to be back in the winner’s circle.”

Stieger is a passionate player when the glove is on.

At times his on-course actions have ruffled the feathers of amateur officialdom but Stieger loves to compete and win. Golf is his life and golf needs its characters. The 20-year-old certainly brings some fire to the elite amateur game.

After winning the 2011 Australian Amateur much was placed upon Stieger’s broad shoulders when he backed up the Aussie Amateur victory with a win at the Western Australian Amateur on the 37th hole against Ray Cow.

Internationally, 2011 was not what Stieger had hoped for with a 5th place at the Berkshire Trophy in the UK, his best result. At the time Stieger had won three National Selection events and had been runner-up in two.

Much was expected of Stieger during that overseas tour with many seeing him as our next hope to break the international drought since Matt Griffin won the 2008 Rice Planters championship in the US.

“It was frustrating for me after winning a number of events back home not to do better in the UK or the US,” says Stieger.

“It felt a long time out of the winner’s circle and the win today feels great. It makes you want to play golf. It brings the passion back into the equation to go back out there and compete after a period where you were down a bit with your game and yourself.”

Stieger’s immediate focus is next month’s Golf SA Classic and representing St Michael’s in the Sydney Major Division 1 Pennant series to see if the club can repeat its 2010 performance and win the prized top-order flag.

In the coming months, Stieger will return to play in the headline UK and US amateur events and will hopefully get the call-up to represent Australia at the Eisenhower Trophy in Turkey in October.

Times are a changing and in Stieger’s case there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Stieger is back to his winning ways and better for it. He has moved on and is ready to let his golf clubs to the talking.

“It has been great to have a wonderful support base to fall back on,” says Stieger.

“Both Dad and my coach John Serhan have been there for me in the good times and bad. This win is special not only for me, but for them.”

“Onwards and upwards I say. Hopefully, it will not be a long time before the next win.”