Harkness rises from defeat to lead the way

Rob Harkness had some consolation for his narrow loss in the B Grade semi-final of the recent club championship by taking out Saturday’s stableford competition at the Mount Gambier Golf Club.

The former Tatiara District Council CEO lost 1-up to eventual B Grade champion Brett Shepherdson in the semis, but bounced back to top the leaderboard on Saturday with 39 points.

That was good enough to edge out A Graders Duncan Savage and Darren Harding who each finished on 38. Playing off a 13 handicap, Harkness had a mixed start with three-point pars on the 1st and 3rd holes, but just one point on the 2nd after a double bogey six, and zero after a pick-up on the 4th.

He was a model of consistency from then on, however, three pars and two bogeys helping him finish the front nine with a regulation 18 points. That run continued on the back nine where he added six more points after three-point pars on the par-three 10th and par-five 11th to put himself in contention.

And while so many players struggle to convert a winning position over the final holes, Harkness had no such trouble. He added another 15 points on the final seven holes, with six two-pointers and a three-point par on the par-four 14th helping him accumulate a total of 39 points.

Savage, who played off a six handicap, was in the box seat to finish with the best score of the day after reaching the 17th tee at just two-over par. That gave him 35 points, helped in no small part by an eagle three for four points on the par-five 15th.

Unfortunately a double-bogey six for just one point on the 17th did not help, although he bounced back with a two-point par on the 18th for 38 points and a very creditable round of 76 off the stick. That was good enough to win the A Grade on a countback from Harding who had a double-bogey seven for zero points on the 1st hole, but otherwise had a solid round with 38 points.

Harkness got the money by a single point from Ian Ewart in B Grade, while a countback was also needed in C Grade where Haydn Dow got the nod from Peter Jones after the 21-handicappers both finished on 36 points.

A close finish was also the order of the day in Thursday’s stableford competition, where a countback was needed to separate veteran Ross Anderson, club captain Trent Eitzen and Scott Whicker after the trio finished on 39 points.

And just to prove lightning can strike twice in the same place, Anderson – who also won the Thursday comp three weeks earlier with 42 points – again prevailed on a countback from Eitzen with Whicker relegated to third spot.

The 76-year-old, who usually plays some practice holes at least three times a week, had a simple explanation for his two wins. “It was probably just luck,” Anderson said modestly, before adding, “I did straighten up my putting though. “I do not usually putt very well.”

That is not helped by the fact his vision is not great, forcing him to use yellow balls so he can see them better. “I cannot see very well, particularly out of my right eye,” he said. “I think that’s why I hit so many putts to the right of the hole.”

Fortunately that did not hamper him on the par-four 12th where his birdie putt from off the green found the bottom of the cup for a crucial four points. And with countbacks decided on the back nine, that gave him 22 points on the way in, one better than Eitzen’s 21 which came after an excellent 74 off the stick.

While Anderson and Eitzen both had five points on the final two holes, Whicker blew what was a winning position by notching just two points on those holes after a double-bogey on the 17th and a bogey on the 18th.

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