Qualifiers curse strikes

The leading qualifiers curse struck again in Saturday’s quarter-finals of the Mount Gambier Golf Club’s men’s club championships. For the second year in succession, the players who finished on top of the rankings after two rounds of qualifying in A Reserve, B Grade and C Grade were all bundled out.

The only number one seed to progress to the semi-finals, to be played on Sunday, April 10, was Anthony Williams who remains the man to beat. Butx even his position in the last four looked in doubt after his quarter-final opponent, Stacey Fiegert, went one-up after holing a birdie putt from off the green on the parfour 12th hole.

No more than a single stroke had separated the pair to that point, with Williams going one-up on the third, Fiegert getting back to square on the 5th, Williams again pulling ahead on the par-three 8th and Fiegert levelling the match on the 11th.

A superb drive into the strong wind on the tough par-four 13th, followed by a brilliant eight-iron to 2m, set up a birdie for Williams and the clash was again all square. He followed that with another win on the 14th and a pair of par fives on the 15th saw Fiegert suddenly running out of opportunities.

He had a quality tee shot to about 3m on the par-three 16th but could not convert the putt, leaving Williams still ahead by one on the 17th tee. Unfortunately Fiegert’s drive found tree trouble off the right side of the fairway and that was compounded when he hit his second into thick rough on the left side of the fairway.

When his third shot found the green side bunker he needed a miracle and almost produced one with his fourth shot just missing the hole. Meanwhile Williams got up-and-down from off the back of the green for a par and a hard-fought 2-and-1 victory.

With two weeks before his semi-final against two-time runner-up Setio Prajogo-Shanahan, Williams admitted not all parts of his game were on song. “I’m hitting them okay, but I think I’ll have to do some extra work on my approach shots,” the 41-year-old said.

Prajogo-Shanahan showed he would be up for the clash by easily moving past between Joe Clements 5 and 4, setting up the win by shooting one-under par 35 on the front nine to lead by two at the turn. The other quarter-finals went as expected with Hayden Cook downing Matt Knowles 4 and 2 and three-time club champion Hayden Schroder overcoming Craig Foster 2 and 1.

Cook and Schroder will meet in the other semi-final, with Cook hoping to get a shot at his first club championship after finishing runner-up to Darren Bilney in last year’s final.

One of the biggest surprises of the day came in A Reserve where leading qualifier Jason Mann was beaten 2-up by teenager Callum Harvey. The big-hitting Mann has been in excellent form in recent months, but could not overcome Harvey who will face fellow teen Mitch Handford in the semis after he accounted for John Shirley 6 and 4.

The other semi-final in A Reserve will see Tim Driver, who beat David Anderson 2-up, take on Josh Knowles who got past Paul Reade 4 and 3. The B Grade semi-finals will see Moryn Sullivan clash with Bryan Hunt and Rob Harkness do battle with Brett Shepherdson.

Sullivan pulled off the biggest surprise in that grade, accounting for leading qualifier Michael Rookas 2-up. And in C Grade, top seed Rob McLellan also went out in the quarters, beaten 4 and 2 by Kev Lennon who took full advantage of his late call-up.

Lennon will now face Jack Jennings in the semis after he beat veteran Peter Buckingham 1-up. The other C Grade semi will be contested by Matthew Bowering and Haydn Dow after they knocked out Graham Robinson and Graeme Armstrong respectively.

While the club championship hopefuls were doing battle, a stableford competition was also held with Gianni Giurastante taking top honours in the 94-strong field. Playing off a seven handicap, the 23-year-old shot a superb even-par round of 72 to record 43 point, three clear of runner-up Ross Anderson.

Giurastante made the turn at one-over par (19 points) after a birdie on the par-four third and a costly double-bogey sixth on the fourth. He caught fire on the back nine, racking up another 24 points after shooting a one-under par 35, only a bogey on the 18th hole costing him the chance of a sub-par round.

Runner-up behind Giurastante in A Grade was Bryan Pink with 39 points, while the rapidly-improving David Pick took out B Grade with the same score, two clear of Peter Berkefeld.

Anderson’s 40 points was good enough to take top spot in C Grade, Blake Diedrich claiming second with 38. Last Thursday’s stableford event saw Winston Prowse take top spot in the 102-strong field with 41 points from his 25 handicap.

That was two clear of three players, Peter Baker taking second on a countback from three handicappers Jeff Hodge and Shane Brook who both shot rounds of even-par 72 off the stick.

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