Akermanis has drive to ace it on the golf course
JASON Akermanis is going back to school at 41- qualifying school that is - with a bold bid to become a golf pro in Noosa next month.
The three-time AFL premiership winner is never short of a surprise and is deadly serious about this punt on a new sporting career.
"Aker" has devoted himself to lowering his handicap from six to scratch over the past year in Albury and feels ready to compete with some of the country's best young golfers.
"I play golf like six days a week and it's something I've set myself to do," the former Brisbane Lions champion said.
"I feel my putting is a strong suit and my handicap has come way down with the practice I've put in."
One hot round won't be enough because Akermanis will have to shoot even par or better over three rounds to get through qualifying school at Noosa Springs (December 5-7).
If he survives there, Akermanis will be off to Moonah Links in Victoria for final stage qualifying to earn a playing card on the Australasian Tour beside stars like Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.
The fair-skinned Akermanis is not as easy to spot on the golf course as he was on the footy field with his bleached-blond hair, a handstand or a freak goal from the boundary line.
Now, you have to pick him out from under a sun-smart broadbrimmed hat, sunglasses and ginger beard.
"I just love golf and a sport where you see yourself improving," said the 2001 Brownlow Medallist, who had his first hole-in-one in June.
He won't be the first top Aussie sportsman to turn pro if he pulls it off.
Queenslander Scott Draper made the fourth round of the US Open as a tennis player in 1997 and a decade later was winning the NSW PGA as a golfer.
Former Test cricketer Dean Jones played briefly on the PGA Legends Tour in 2012-13.
Recent WA Open winner Zach Murray has played regularly with Akermanis in Albury and credited him with strong advice on the mental side of sport.
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"Aker is big on having confidence in yourself, not the fake type, but the real kind that comes from hard work and learning," Murray said.
"He can be a bit up-and-down but he's definitely got game and he's putting in the practice.
"We've got to know each other quite well since we met in a Wednesday club comp a few years ago."