NSW Open ‘Just Dad’: Behind Wharton’s emotional return to pro golf

NSW Open ‘Just Dad’: Behind Wharton’s emotional return to pro golf

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Ben Wharton’s tie for seventh two weeks ago at TPS Sydney, according to the Official World Golf Rankings, was his best result in almost 12 years. When you hear about the journey the now 35-year-old has travelled for the past decade, it’s easy to understand why.

Wharton arrives at Concord Golf Club for this week’s Golf Challenge NSW Open on the back of a tie for third at TPS Hunter Valley but still with his back against the wall.

He knows that on one expects him to win this week; in fact he thrives on it.

He’s playing to prove everyone wrong, but to also prove on person right.

Wharton came through the junior system in Victoria mixing it with the likes of five-time PGA TOUR winner Marc Leishman yet was told repeatedly that he didn’t have the game to be great.

He was just 19 when he turned professional in 2006, made the cut at the 2007 New Zealand Open and was just 23 when he finished tied for 32nd in a 2010 Australian Masters field that included Tiger Woods.

In 2016 he moved to America to try and break into the big time and played the Alfred Dunhill Links on the European Tour his father Gary’s diagnosis of a terminal illness in 2017 took away his reason for playing.

“My dad was my coach and caddie and he passed away of cancer,” shares Wharton, struggling to suppress the emotions that still sit so close to the surface.

“It hit me pretty hard.

“He was given a year to live and I didn’t play golf in that year and then proceeding for a few years, I just didn’t play.”

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