Uber driver sets sights on huge golfing payday
HE'S an Uber driver ranked No.1939 in the world, but golf battler Adam Stephens is threatening to turn the Australian Open on its head.
As many in the field - including defending champion Cameron Davis and pre-tournament favourite Cameron Smith - floundered during a wet and wild first round, Stephens' dazzling three-under-par 69 left him just two shots off the pace.
"My mate told me yesterday, 'You're 251 to one to be the first-round leader.' I said, 'That sounds all right but I'd much rather have you put money on me,'" Stephens said after mixing five birdies with two bogeys at The Lakes.
"I know the course fairly well. I've got a couple of mates who are members.
"My caddie was a member here. I just try and keep the bogeys down for the week, just keep doing your birdies and you're going to be up there."
After missing the cut at last week's NSW Open, the Blue Mountains-born, Gold Coast-based 30-year-old ended his round on Thursday trailing only Korean Byeong-hun An and countryman Matt Jager on the Open leaderboard.
So hard up is the one-time South Pacific Open champion that he recently turned to Uber "just to get (his) mortgage going and a bit of income in".
"Mate, I've just got a two-bedroom unit in Hope Island area," he said. "I've just got my missus there and I've just got a person renting the other room out recently, which is nice."
A sporting all-rounder who favoured sprinting, tennis and swimming in his early days, Stephens picked up a golf club for the first time at 11, before quitting and then starting to take it seriously from 13.
"I went to Kelvin Grove up in Queensland when I was 17. That's like a golf school there," he said.
"Then I went to the other one called Hills International, where Jason Day went there as well."
But after toiling away in Asia for several years with little luck, Stephens gave up all but his Australasian Tour card last year.
"To be honest, I didn't go to Japan this year because I had no money," he said. "That's the reality of it over here in Australia. I went there last year and I got to final three stage, (but it) almost bankrupt me."
First prize at the Australian Open is $225,000, second $127,500 and third nearly $85,000.