Darren Bilney has dominated the 2022 The Barn Steakhouse Club Championship at the Mount Gambier Golf Club to claim his sixth title and move to within two wins of all-time leader Chris Lovelock.
What shaped up as a potential battle royale against defending champion and four-time winner Hayden Schroder turned into a one-sided affair, the match ending after 29 holes with Bilney leading.
On a perfect day weather-wise, Schroder was unable to get his game going, winning just four holes while his opponent won 12.
Bilney had moved to two-up through the first nine holes and was one-under par at that point.
Schroder needed to produce his best on the second nine to get back into the contest, but dropped more shots on the 11th and 12th before producing a superb birdie on the par-four 13th to get back to three down.
Unfortunately he could not repeat that effort, dropping shots on the 15th, 16th and 17th with bogeys that saw him finish the first 18 holes at six down.
From that point it was just a matter of Bilney not making any bad errors to keep his stranglehold on the game.
He extended his lead to +7 after a birdie on the first hole of the second round, then produced the shot of the day on the 342-metre par-four fourth hole, hitting his drive to within 5m of the green, setting up an easy birdie to extend the gap to +8.
Schroder did his best to stay in the match, but despite wins on the seventh and 10th his title defence was over after the par-five 11th was shared with birdies.
Bilney, who was five-under par off the stick when the game ended, said he felt “pretty good” about claiming the title for the sixth time.
“Obviously Schrodes did not play his best, but I thought I did everything I needed to do,” he said.
“I hit some good drives, hit good irons all day and putted pretty well.”
Schroder on the other hand was philosophical about the way the match turned out.
“I just wanted to come out and play to my handicap, but I was a long way off that,” he said.
“I did not capitalise on his bad shots and I did not feel good over the putter all day.”
Surprisingly that match was not the most one-sided of the day.
In A Reserve, Tony Revill produced his worst round for a long time, eventually losing to Bryan Pink 11 and 9.
Revill took 15 holes to notch his first par of the day by which time the contest was effectively over, Pink adding the trophy to his previous wins in C Grade and B Grade (2).
The B Grade championship went to relative newcomer Matthew McCallum, the former East Gambier Football Club premiership player proving too good for Jon Clayton, running out a 7 and 5 winner.
McCallum, who played some golf as a teenager but only returned to the game competitively last year, said his approach shots were the key to his win, while apart from a chip-in birdie on the second hole of the first round, Clayton’s chipping proved his nemesis all day.
The C Grade final was a see-sawing battle between two of the most talented young players at the club and in the end it was 11-year-old Blake Schroder who backed up his D Grade win last year by beating 14-year-old Zac Shanks two-up in a match that went the full 36 holes.
Schroder was quickly out of the blocks, leading by four after four holes, but Shanks, who drove superbly all day, got back to square a couple of times before they reached the final hole with Schroder holding a one-shot lead.
Unfortunately, Shanks saved his worst drive of the day for that moment, a bogey from Schroder enough to claim his second club championship win.
While Schroder’s dad Hayden was unable to make it two wins for the family on the day, he did win the Monthly Medal the previous day, shooting a four-under par 68 to finish on net 67, one ahead of Paul Reade and Matt Knowles.
Playing off a one handicap, Schroder shot 34 for each nine, the highlight being an eagle three on the par-five first hole.
Reade also had his best Saturday round for some time, taking second on a count-back from Knowles who ruined his chances of a win with a double-bogey on the par-three 16th.
B Grade was taken out by the in-form Ian Ewart who returned a net 73 to finish one shot ahead of Andrew Birks.
And in C Grade a count-back was needed with Craig Torney getting the nod over Flynn Davison after they finished with net 71s.
Meanwhile Thursday’s stableford competition was taken out by John Shirley who signed for 39 points, two ahead of Chris Lynch.
On an exceptionally windy day, they were the only players to beat their handicap in the 87-strong field.