Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Brett Rumford  (Getty Images)
Brett Rumford (Getty Images)

In an area steeped in myth and legend, a focussed and philosophical Brett Rumford is looking to join an elite band of European Tour greats in the golfing history books as he bids for a third straight victory this week at the Volvo World Match Play Championship.

The Australian enjoyed the best fortnight of his career recently when he won back-to-back events in the Far East, firstly claiming the Ballantine's Championship after a superb eagle three at the first extra hole of a sudden-death play-off in South Korea, while just two weeks ago he won the Volvo China Open, this time cruising to a four-stroke victory.

Looking, therefore, to also make it a Volvo double in Bulgaria at the spectacular Gary Player-designed layout in Kavarna, the 35 year old knows that if he were to triumph at Thracian Cliffs he would match the extraordinary feats of two legends of the European game.

Not since Sir Nick Faldo in 1983, and Seve Ballesteros three years later, has anyone captured three European Tour events back-to-back but to do so he may have to overcome the likes of match play specialists Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, who are present in Bulgaria along with a stellar field assembled for the 48th edition of the World Match Play.

Rumford, though, admitted it has been somewhat of a whirlwind since those victories, including his twin girls’ second birthdays, and is modest about his chances this week.

“I’m really looking forward to the week,” said Rumford, whose victory in Tianjin saw the Perth native qualify for this week’s event. “I have just been trying to get my recovery back and my stamina to be able to take on 36 holes a day for obviously the duration of the event, hopefully, if I can make it that far.

“But knowing that my preparation has not been the greatest, I'm realistic.”

The five-time European Tour winner also revealed it would be his first competitive match play outing as a professional, having not contested in the popular format for 15 years.

After being drawn against Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Welshman Jamie Donaldson in the round-robin group stages, he said: “I played plenty of match play as an amateur but I haven't played match play since I was probably 20 years of age; so a long, long time now.

“But I really enjoyed match play when I was younger.  I thrived on the competition, and obviously the head to head battle, and I like to think of match play as a learned game, as well. 

“It's very difficult early on to play an experienced match play player, anyway, because it's a completely different mind set but I'm sure I'll find my feet once I get into it.”

Rumford, who has talked a lot in recent times of how compatriot Adam Scott’s maiden Major triumph at the Masters Tournament last month helped inspire his recent success, also told of some messages he had received in return from the Adelaide man.

“I got a couple of text messages [from Scott] which is fantastic, and just one that he said, ‘I woke up this morning and I saw the results and I'm just thrilled to bits, I'm just really proud of you and it’s really inspiring stuff.’

“And it was just purely his performance in the Masters which pretty much inspired me to my wins so that was great.”

Moreover, though, Rumford credits the upturn in fortunes that has recently seen him claim his first wins since 2007 to old-fashioned grit and grind.

“It's just really hard work and a more holistic approach,” he reflected.
 
“I changed caddies and I've been working very, very hard with obviously just with the preparation side with Ronnie [real name John Roberts].  I also changed coaches to Pete Cowen and have been working hard on the body, as well, with Kevin Duffy from Duffy Golf Fitness.

“So I’ve basically got my body and nutrition side right as well; it's the whole lot.  Just preparation, everything, and as well as home the hours I've been putting in – it's some long days.  More holistically, I'm just preparing a whole lot better.”

With his mind and body ready for the epic challenge ahead at Thracian Cliffs, Rumford could indeed be one to keep a close eye on as he seeks a place amongst The European Tour’s history-men.

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