AT THE end of last year, Horsham golf export Marcus Both thought about quitting the sport.
Both lost his Asian Tour card for the first time since 2003 – the year he turned pro, changed coaches and began pondering life outside of golf.
But on Sunday, the 34-year-old completed a stunning turnaround to secure his third Asian Tour title, winning the Philippine Open by two shots at Manila’s Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
It was his first Asian Tour title since 2009, when he won the Cambodian Open.
Both posted a two-under-par 70 in the final round to claim victory and the $US54,000 first prize ahead of five rivals tied for second.
“People say they haven’t seen me smile this much ever,” the right-hander said after his win.
“The past 12 months have been really tough – I feel some vindication for making the choices that I have.
“I’ve worked my backside off and it’s nice to see some results.”
Both sunk a 20-foot birdie putt on the 15th and another birdie on the 16th to take a three-shot lead.
“The past 12 months have been really tough – I feel some vindication for making the choices that I have.''
Despite bogeying the final two holes, he said he felt in control.
“I felt quite comfortable there, but still a bit nervous,” he said.
“It’s easier said than done to calm yourself down when you’re under the pump and everything’s going a million miles an hour.
“I tend to look at scoreboards a little bit, but when I was at the back of the 15th green that was the last time I looked at the leaderboard – I thought it was in my hands if I played well.”
It could have been very different for the Wimmera product, who sized up his priorities at the end of 2013.
“I didn’t really tell too many people,” he said.
“I was really looking at other means, thinking about taking up part-time work – not to make ends meet but to fill in time.
“People say they haven’t seen me smile this much ever.”
“The way I was putting priorities in my life, thinking about doing other things has made this week a lot sweeter.”
Both changed coaches and started a fruitful partnership with close mate Stuart Leong.
“My previous instructor and I weren’t seeing eye-to-eye and this has been a fantastic relationship,” he said.
“I wasn’t really sure if I was going to be able to come back but my coach was really excited.
“He had been saying things are looking great and to be prepared for what’s to come.
“When things aren’t quite going the way you want them to, if people around you have that faith you draw on that.”
The win sees the Melbourne-based golfer regain his fully-exempt status until the end of the 2015 season.
“The goal was to get myself exempt again and winning that took care of it a lot more quickly than I was expecting,” Both said.
“It gives me that little bit of job security, you can start to plan schedules a bit better and look multiple months in advance.
“It should let me play the events I want to play in and keep improving.”