Golf legends visit city

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Golf legends visit city

The golf was above par this week at the Mount Gambier Golf Club for the MG Plasterers and Steeline South Australian PGA Seniors Championship.

World class golfers flocked to the Limestone Coast from across Australia, joined by a handful from America and New Zealand, to compete for a $35,000 prize pool in front of some 200 spectators.

Peter Fowler and New Zealander Michael Long tied at -4 for the two days which was decided in a playoff. It was an even match-up between Fowler and Long with both golfers having won the PGA Tour of Australasia four times, among other personal achievements.

Fowler claimed victory (and the $7000 grand prize) on the first playoff of the 18th hole after Long’s magnificent chip shot just finished a mere half an inch short of the hole in the middle.

John Wade finished in third with -3, just lipping out on a small putt at the end of the two days and subsequently recording a 4-putt to narrowly miss out on the playoff.

Among the 55 pros were the likes of Andre Stoltz and Peter Senior, both of whom finished in the top 10.

The MG Plasterers and Steeline South Australian PGA Seniors Championship tournament director and local professional golfer John Martin said conditions on the second day were comparable to the Australian Open.

“The second day the course was playing as tough and as difficult as it could be with gusty winds and hard firm greens,” he said.

“Very unforgetting, very firm greens, very fast rolling greens – slightly touch the ball too hard and the wind will blow it off the greens.

“There were 55 pros in town for five days who would have spent in excess of $70,000 in the town through different service stations, accommodation and restaurants.

“They also brought with them the world class golf which all the members here at the golf club were able to witness.”

Martin said the first day of the tournament was a mixture of sponsors and professionals taking to the greens, while the following day was solely for professional golfers.

“The sponsors loved it, they got to see world class golf up close, and get a little bit of help on their own golf and a few pointers so that was quite exciting for them,” he said.

“It was very exciting for all the keen golfers to see world class golf and a heated playoff between two of the lead players in the golf tournament.

“It all looks like it’s going ahead next year again with possibly a little bit more prize-money and probably even a few more international players as the tournament grows.

“Everybody loved it, everything went really well actually; we were very lucky.”

On the second day, five amateurs over the age of 50 and five under the age of 50 competed in separate sections as well as the main drawcard.

The winner of the under 50 amateurs was local Darren Bilney while Richard Gosling took out the over 50 amateurs title.

Martin said a highlight of the tournament was the interaction between the members and local golfers and international professional golfers.

“There’s dozens of stories from their interaction with these international pros, experiences with these people they have watched on TV all their life,” he said.

“There’s a lot of friendships created between the members, the tournament organisers and these international players.

“They’re in town for five days, they’re having practice rounds and really got to meet all the members.

“The sportsman’s night was incredible, entertaining, with some really interesting stories of international players travelling around the world and some things that happened to them.

“It was quite fascinating what they got up to.”

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