Online lessons with Aussie swing guru Bradley Hughes has restored Scott Arnold’s love of golf and reinstated the belief that he can win again at the highest level.
Arnold was at the centre of scorecard confusion that constituted part of a chaotic conclusion to the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship at City Golf Club in Toowoomba on Sunday, ultimately losing at the fourth hole of a playoff against close friend Michael Sim in a frenetic finale.
When he handed in his scorecard it became apparent that Arnold had finished at 12-under par and not 13-under as everyone on course and PGA TV commentators Mark Allen and Ewan Porter believed.
The miscalculation stemmed from a bogey at the par-4 ninth for which Arnold had been credited with a par, tournament leader Brad Kennedy told halfway down the 72nd hole that a par would in fact be good enough to win.
But Kennedy’s double-bogey and Sim’s brilliant birdie resulted in a two-man playoff that was all the more remarkable given the pair were due to drive to the Gold Coast together at the end of the day’s play.
“I noticed on about 13 that they had my score wrong on a leaderboard,” Arnold said of the scoreboard error.
“I thought, That’s one out. Obviously Brad got told coming in that it was one shot wrong but I never honestly thought I would even be in a playoff.
“The way that the back nine was going, the last three days everyone had been making birdies and he was 16-under at one stage and I was only 12 or 13. I was still three or four behind and just trying to keep it in play and make birdies and if not stress-free pars and hopefully finish in the top three.
“When I saw that they’d told Brad and he laid up… I didn’t think he’d make six. I thought he’d definitely be in a playoff. And then I didn’t know Michael was there until I was walking out the door and heard Ewan say ‘Michael Sim’s not out of this’ and then I watched him hit it in close.
“I heard the groans when Brad missed and it was only going to be me and Michael in the playoff.
“I just wanted to give myself a chance to win. If I did I would have been super happy but I’m not disappointed one bit because I’ve worked so hard to be in this position.
“Now that I’m finally here all the hard work has paid off.”
Now 34 years of age, Arnold spent the majority of 2019 on the secondary Abema TV Tour in Japan but has been existing in golf’s wilderness for much of the past three years.
He played just 20 events attracting World Rankings points in 2017-18 but having recently linked with Hughes is starting to see a return to the type of golf that once made him the world’s leading amateur.
A former Australian Masters winner himself, Hughes has become one of golf’s most in-demand swing gurus due largely to the way he has resurrected the career of American Brendon Todd and he is having a similar effect on Arnold.
“I haven’t played well for quite a few years,” conceded Arnold, who was in the mix at the halfway mark of a star-studded Australian Open in December.
“I lost the love of the game for a little bit, got forced to keep playing and that wasn’t a great idea.
“I was going to tournaments and not really wanting to be there. I was never going to play to my potential not wanting to be there.
“The last couple of months I’ve had a few lessons with Brad Hughes in America online and things have turned around.
“I’m feeling a bit more comfortable and actually wanting to be out here playing which is a big difference.
“If I can be in that mindset in the next couple of weeks I can try and win one of the next two.
“I’m not really that disappointed to lose because I’ve been playing well of late but not putting everything together.
“This week was hopefully a turning point and I can kick-on the next couple of weeks.”
As for the car ride back to the Gold Coast, Arnold put to rest any notion that the pair would be sitting side by side silent for two hours.
“It’s so good to see Michael playing well again because he was in the same boat as me,” said Arnold.
“We didn’t really want to play but we were still playing but now we’re both playing well and enjoying it.
“It was so fun to play in those playoff holes. We’re best mates so I was much more relaxed playing those playoff holes with him than I would have been otherwise.”