BLAKE Windred was looking forward to testing himself against the best amateurs in the world when he jetted out to Europe en route to the USA 12 months ago.
The Charlestown 22-year-old takes off on a similar adventure on Wednesday.
Only this time, the now world No.17 wants to return with a title.
"My expectations are different," Windred said. "This is my last chance at winning one of the big world amateur events. That is definitely the goal. There is a lot that you can't control, but I'm playing good golf and hopefully I can put myself in a place to win or go deep into the match play."
And, if all goes to plan, Windred will be back in Europe in September as a fully-fledged professional attending Q-school.
"That is the plan," he said. "Whether I have to start at first or second stage will depend how I go in the US."
Before North America, Windred will tee up in the British Amateur, which is being held at Portmarnock in Ireland starting June 17. The European Amateur is the following week in Austria.
Windred finished seventh at the European Amateur at the Royal Hague course in the Netherlands last year - his best finish in a major international tournament.
"This time last year my world ranking was 75," Windred said. "Now its 17 and got as low as 11. If I can play some solid golf, I'm sure I have the game to get into a position like I did last year. Hopefully I can go a couple better and actually win. But at the British and US Amateur there are another 300 people trying to do the same thing."
After Austria, Windred travels to Houston for a Australian team camp before competing in the Players Amateur (Berkeley Hall Golf Club), Pacific Coast Amateur (University of New Mexico Golf Club), Western Amateur (Point O' Woods Golf, Michigan) and US Amateur (Pinehurst Golf Club, North Carolina).
Windred's best result in the US was runner-up in the Porter Cup. The previous week, he won a qualifier to earn a place at the US Amateur where he was knocked out in the round of 32 match play at Pebble Beach.
Since the US Amateur, the Charlestown right-hander has finished third at the NSW Open against the professionals and was also the best amateur at the Quensland and Victotian Opens, made the quarter-finals in the Australian Amateur and was third at the Master of the Amateurs.
"I am extremely happy with the way my game has developed over the past 12 months," he said. "Last year it was 'hopefully I can do this and do that'. I have been ticking those goals off. I have been pretty much living in Sydney during the week and getting a lot of practice and development done. Working with Gary Barter at the Australian. It feels like everything is in place."
* Brayden Petersen knows exactly where he wants to be at the end of his traineeship in 18 months time.
"Once I've finished, I will look to go to tour school in Japan," he said. "The plan is definitely to play on a tour here or overseas."
Petersen took another step towards his goal after winning the Queensland Trainee Championship at Windaroo Lakes last Thursday.
The 24 year old entered the final round five shots behind defending champion Cooper Eccleston and fired a four-under 68 to finish at two over and win by three shots from Dean Jamieson.
"Going into the last round five shots back, I didn't expect to win," he said. "It shows anything can happen when you apply a bit of pressure. I was four-under through nine and Cooper turned one-over and we were back to square."
The win ended a run of second places at the Victoria Trainee Championships, NSW Trainee Championships and Rich River event.
"It was a relief to go out and actually win one instead of running second every time," Petersen said. "It also gets me a start at the Queensland PGA at Toowoomba next year. I was really happy about that. The next 16 months is like a big preparation for when I turn professional. Knowing I can win is good for the confidence."
Petersen sits atop the national trainee averages at 68.25 and 2.5 under par per round. The average is different to the order of merit and includes the four-round events. The top five at the end of the traineeship bypass the first stage of Australasian Tour School.
Next is the NSW Trainee Championships at Riverside Oaks, starting July 28.
"I finished second there last year," Petersen said. "I don't play many of the Monday [trainee] events. Over the past 12 months I have been working hard on my course management, playing the four-rounders is different to a one-rounder. I'm lucky in that I get to practice more than other trainees do. The boss at Asquith, Paul Lorimer, knows that once I finish my traineeship, I want to play on the tour. He gives me time off to go and play big events. Asquith are really supportive with everything I do."
As well as play, trainees have to learn the business and teaching side of being a professional.
"I'm up to date with all my assessments and don't mind that side of it," Petersen said.
* Inaugural champions Greg McMillan and Julie McCallum will defend their crowns at the Sugar Valley Cup to be held on Saturday, June 22.