Former NRL star Ben Ikin’s golf debut didn’t go to plan
UPDATE: Ben Ikin played 17 fierce State of Origin games yet can never remember "my heart beating outside my chest" like it felt during his frayed big-time golf debut.
Ikin carded a nervy 11-over-par 81 on Thursday when stepping out with the pros at the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA at the tight, tree-lined City Golf Club in Toowoomba.
"The tail is well and truly between the legs," said Ikin, who had cut his handicap from seven to 1.7 to earn his amateur invitation.
Constant encouragement was not enough from playing partners Matt Guyatt, his seasoned teaching pro, and Peter Lonard, the laidback two-time Australian Open champion.
Ikin was so mentally fatigued just trying to keep up his concentration that he tripped with an ugly triple bogey-double bogey crash on his back nine.
Ikin sits 19 shots behind Victorian leader Ryan Lynch who ran hot with eight birdies and an eagle in his 62.
"The heart felt like it was beating outside my chest for the first five or six holes," said Ikin, who started with four bogeys.
"I remember the nerves around Origin but it's very different because you have your first touch of the footy and you're away in a game played at non-stop speed.
"There's so much time to think on the golf course with unhelpful storylines and swing thoughts entering your head.
"I always understood I'd play some ordinary shots but it doesn't change this being a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for me."
Ikin holed two nice putts for birdies which drew cheers from an eager fan club on the fairways which included former Broncos teammates Mick Hancock and Mark Corvo.
"Matty was fantastic and my mates in the gallery kept saying how good a bloke Peter Lonard was as a Bulldogs (NRL) tragic who kept telling them golf stories," Ikin said.
Former Canberra Raiders lower grader Gary "Macca" McDonell was even ushered into action as Guyatt's caddie.
On his 13th hole, a 180m par three, Ikin said "I put one of my worst swings ever on a six iron."
From the trees, he punched into a bunker, had three putts and signed for a six.
"After the enormous concentration to stay in the game to that point, my brain was almost saying it had had enough of being a pro golfer," Ikin said with a laugh.
Ikin sits last in the 156-man field but driving home to Brisbane on Thursday night for cake to celebrated his 42nd birthday with his four kids freshened his mind.
"Hopefully I can relax into some good golf in the second round with nerves a little less frayed," Ikin said.