Photo: Damien Jordan said his time in Iraq put the pressures of golf into perspective. (Supplied: PGA Australia)
It's a long way from the trenches of Iraq to the bunkers of Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, but Army veteran turned professional golfer Damien Jordan now has a shot at the big time.
Photo: Jordan served with 2RAR and has served twice in Iraq. (Supplied: Damien Jordan)
Jordan, 37, has just qualified for the Australian PGA Championship, to be held this week, for the first time.
The Tweed Heads golfer played briefly on the Australian golf tour in 2009 before joining the Army and then returned to the sport in earnest in 2015 after leaving the Defence Force.
He said after his two tours in Iraq, the fairways offered him peace and quiet.
"It's my sanctum out here. If it wasn't for golf I'm not sure what I'd be doing," he said.
"It's definitely made it a lot easier for me to deal with what I've had to from the past and it definitely helps."
Jordan said he played against Adam Scott as a junior but then turned his back on the sport to join the Army.
"It's definitely made me a lot mentally stronger on the golf course, but it's also shaped who I am as a person," he said.
"It's made me appreciate what we have in this beautiful country more than anyone."
Photo: Jordan (centre, wearing cap) with his 2RAR comrades in Iraq. (Supplied: Damien Jordan)
His coach and longtime friend Ben Cronk said the military had given Jordan a massive advantage over his rivals.
"Mentally, definitely. No fear — where's the hole, where's the fairway?" Cronk said.
Photo: Jordan describes the golf course as his happy place. (Supplied: PGA Australia)
Jordan said his time in Iraq had given him a unique perspective on the green.
"A lot of blokes have asked me before, 'do you still stress over putts?' and I said, 'not really mate after what I've been through'," he said.
"Make a bogey or double bogey out here, it doesn't matter. I'm still going home at the end of the day."
But is he ready to challenge tournament drawcards Scott and Sergio Garcia?
"I hit the ball pretty straight and putt well. I think I'll be well up there," he said.
Cronk agreed: "If his putter rolls, it's game on."
"He's got great control of his flight now, knows where it's going to go, knows how far it's going to go."
The Australian PGA begins on Thursday....Read more