Rollercoaster time for Geary

Josh Geary lines up a putt on his way to winning the New Zealand strokeplay at the Christchurch...
Josh Geary lines up a putt on his way to winning the New Zealand strokeplay at the Christchurch club on March 20. PHOTO: SIMON WATTS/BW MEDIA
Josh Geary knows as well as anyone that golf — just like life — can be a rollercoaster.

It has been an intense few months for the popular Tauranga professional, who is heading south to play in the inaugural Millbrook Classic this weekend.

Geary (37) has been grieving the death of his mother in a car accident, preparing for the birth of his first child, celebrating a stunning victory at the New Zealand strokeplay, and planning another campaign in Europe.

Winning at Christchurch last month was a massive pick-me-up.

Geary started the back nine on Sunday three shots behind boom amateur Sam Jones but promptly went birdie, eagle, birdie to shoot 7-under after the turn, finishing on 14-under to win by a stroke.

"It was kind of a funny week because I played OK the first couple of days but then had a really tough day on Saturday," Geary told the Otago Daily Times.

"I just had to hang in there and stay in touch. Then all of a sudden, I just hit a few good shots and the putter caught fire and I rode the wave home.

"It’s obviously a smaller scale than overseas tournaments but it’s exactly the same feeling — the emotions you go through, the pressure. Great practice for guys like us heading overseas to play.

"So it was nice to get the juices flowing again."

It was his first tournament win since the Akarana Open in 2019, and his first full-round event since the death of his mother on December 8.

Maree Geary died after her car ended up in Tauranga Harbour following a three-vehicle crash.

Geary had not long returned from an extended stint overseas due to Covid and had been enjoying some down time with his family in Bay of Plenty.

"I was sort of just getting back into serious practice a week before Mum’s accident," he said.

"That knocked me for six, obviously. I put the clubs away for a while and sort of focused on family and friends and myself.

"A few weeks later, I sort of weighed up: do I want to keep playing?

"But I’m definitely feeling a lot better and getting more clarity about what I want to do. I want to keep playing, and get back overseas.

"It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions but I want to keep going."

The circle of life will continue when Geary and partner Hannah welcome their first child in a few weeks.

He will then return to the European Tour, where he played some solid golf in 2021, making the cut in six of 13 tournaments with a best finish of sixth in Denmark.

"There’s a lot to figure out but it’s exciting times. Things are about to change, and I’m looking forward to it."

Geary said he had not been too badly affected by the pandemic over the past two years.

The only issue last year was having to spend an extended time overseas.

"That was hard, but the alternative was being back home and not playing, so it was a bit of a no-brainer.

"It hasn’t been too bad for me, but I feel sorry for some of the younger ones who are just turning pro with the lack of Q-schools and whatnot, making it harder."

He has not yet played the new nine holes at Millbrook and is eagerly awaiting a practice round today.

Geary tended to play better at The Hills during the New Zealand Open but is confident of doing well at Millbrook if the putter behaves.

"Millbrook is definitely a scoreable golf course if you’re on, but I always found putting a little tricky there.

"You get a lot of quite lengthy putts that don’t break much, and if you’re a little bit off, you don’t have much margin for error. If you putt well, you can shoot some really good numbers."

Geary is delighted the one-off $150,000 Millbrook Classic has been cooked up to help New Zealand professionals following the cancellation of the Open.

"I think it’s great they’ve given us an event with some good money, and all the pros are really appreciative.

"It’s obviously been pretty lean in New Zealand over the last couple of years. This is exciting, especially for the guys who haven’t travelled."


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