SUNSHINE Coast-raised surfer Nathan Hedge has breathed significant life into his WCT aspirations after winning his second round heat at the Reef Hawaiian Pro.
The 35-year-old spent several years on the professional tour before taking an extended sabbatical.
After returning to competitive surfing two years ago, Hedge is now within striking distance of reclaiming a spot on tour in a stunning comeback.
"To come back and surf Haleiwa and be here for the season, it's an honour," he said.
"I'm not thinking too far ahead, I just want to do my best surfing on each wave and the rest of the stuff takes care of itself."
Hedge spent several years inside the world's top 10 and was once regarded as a genuine world title contender.
He said his wealth of experience in Hawaii would serve him well throughout the tournament.
"I've got the beauty of experience over here and I've had to qualify here a bunch of times," he said.
Hedge sits in 25th place on the qualifying series with the top 10 to gain a place on next year's WCT.
To claim a spot on next year's tour, Hedge will have to finish in the upper echelon of surfers in this tournament as well as his last event of the year at the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach.
"I know I can do it and if it's meant to be, it'll be, so I'm just going to enjoy it and embrace it," Hedge said.
Hedge clawed his way from fourth to first in a last-minute show of brilliance, posting a vital second score of 8.37 in his Round 2 heat to take the win and move through to Round 3.
He said producing when it counted most gave him a significant confidence boost heading into his next heat.
"It's so amazing coming back when you need a score and you get it at the end," he said.
"With the priority and the way that the waves are, it's pretty much the last roll of the dice.
"It feels good to back yourself and then get the wave and actually preform on it."
Coolum's Julian Wilson is expected to start his Reef Hawaiian Pro campaign today in round three.
Wurtulla's Mitch Coleborn was bundled out in round one.
HEDGE CLOSING IN
- Currently sits 25th in the Qualifying Series
- The top 10 from the series gain entry to the World Championship Tour
- Hedge was formerly consistently ranked among the top 10 surfers in the world
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