- It has been another memorable year for golf in Western Australia and in recognition of the past 12 month we have taken a look back on five of the best WA moments over the past 12 months.
It was no easy task to settle on just five moments, such has been the considerable body of work from West Aussie golfers at home and abroad this year, with plenty of debate at GolfWA HQ about who should make the final cut.
In the end five pretty special moments have made the cut although special mention needs to go out to Lake Karrinyup’s men’s pennants team, after they ended their 64-year title drought in the top-flight, while it is instructive at how good the year has been that the state’s top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee did not crack the list after another strong year on the LPGA Tour.
We will be updating the list each day from now until Christmas with the final reveal awaiting under the tree on Christmas Day…
5. WA BOYS WIN FIRST TITLE FOR 17 YEARS
Western Australia’s reputation for producing a conveyor belt of talent was further enhanced when the state boys team ended a 17-year title drought at the Junior Interstate Series in April.
Captained by Fred Lee, who would go on to play at the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup and sign for Stanford University later in the year, the West Aussies beat some star-studded rivals as they lost just once en-route to lifting the title.
After heavy wins against the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania to begin their campaign the West Aussies slipped to a 3-2 defeat to Queensland that set up a make-or-break clash with Victoria.
The team, which was coached by Tony McSkimming, rebounded in style as Lee and Cooper Geddes critically won on the last hole in the final two matchups to snatch the points from Victoria.
Queensland’s defeat to New South Wales opened the door to victory and WA raced through it as they thrashed South Australia and New South Wales in their final two games to be crowned champions.
Lee later admitted he had “picked up the torch” from previous captains he had played under such as Curtis Luck and Ben Ferguson as his team of Geddes, Jordan Doull, Connor Fewkes, Hayden Hopewell, Josh Greer plus Adam Brady etched their names in history.
4. LEANEY EQUALS WA OPEN TITLE RECORD
Stephen Leaney wound back the clock at the Nexus Risk TSA Group WA Open Championship in October when he claimed the title for a record-equalling sixth time.
Remarkably, it was the 48-year-old’s first professional title since he previously won the Roy Paxton Bowl back in 2004 as he proved age was no barrier around a Royal Perth lay-out he had called home for three decades.
Leaney set up his week with an opening-round eight-under 64 but had to wait until the final hole to be assured of the win when Callan O’Reilly slipped a gettable putt just wide.
Terry Gale, whose record mark Leaney equalled, watched on from a healthy gallery as the veteran claimed a win he admitted was full of nerves and for his children who could hardly remember his last success.
“My kids have never had the experience of me winning a golf tournament,” the 2003 US Open runner-up said. “The first six years they followed me in America full time. It’s only been the last sort of six or seven years they haven’t as much.”
He added: “It’s been a long day, it’s been a long 13 years since I won a golf tournament. I just tried to stay in the moment all week this week. That’s probably as good as I’d done for a long time.”
Leaney’s success kick-started a hat-trick of West Aussie wins on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia as Michael Sim also broke his title drought to win the Queensland Open before Jason Scrivenver clocked his first pro win at the NSW Open.
3. LUCK TURNS PRO AFTER MEMORABLE MASTERS DEBUT
Curtis Luck arrived at his debut major as the world’s top-ranked amateur and the eyes of the golfing world upon him after he earned his place at Augusta by winning the US and Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships the previous year.
The Cottesloe gun handled the occasion with aplomb, fielding questions from the world’s press in the new Augusta media suite like a seasoned pro before stepping out onto Augusta National’s stories fairways to underline the buzz of expectation that had started to follow him.
The 21-year-old made the cut, despite admitting he did not strike the ball as well as he might have liked, and then made a late rush for the low amateur as he strung four successive birdies. In the end he had to be content with second place in the race for the Silver medal behind 25-year financial analyst Stewart Hagestad.
It was, however, still the perfect send-off to Luck’s glittering amateur as he moved into the paid ranks immediately after The Masters. A testing year on the PGA Tour was highlighted by his best-placed finish at the Quicken Loan – where he was fifth – before he ended the year with a third-place finish at the Web.com Tour Q-School Finals in Arizona to lock away his schedule for at least the start of 2018 as he looks to earn his place full-time on the PGA Tour.
2. GREEN’S STUNNING US ROOKIE SEASON
Goal at start of her was 3 wins. Mission accomplished ✔️ pic.twitter.com/bcI4LkaLPi
— Symetra Tour (@ROAD2LPGA) October 2, 2017
Hannah Green’s maiden season as a professional could hardly have gone any better.
When the 20-year-old flew out to the United States in March she set herself the type of lofty ambitions that some might have confused for the naïve target setting of a tour rookie. Green vowed to clinch three wins and a place on the LPGA Tour.
Green would comfortably complete that goal…and then some. When Green blitzed the field to win the rain-delayed IOA Golf Classic by two stroke in October it was confirmation of what she had probably already suspected all those months ago – that she is ready for the big time.
A second-placed finish on the Symetra Tour and being crowned Rookie of the Year further underlined her credentials.
It was a mighty effort for a player who only a year earlier was playing pennants for Mount Lawley and who spent the year driving from event to event around a foreign country to play on courses she had never seen before.
An even bigger challenge now awaits in the new year, when she will join her former Western Australia team-mate Minjee Lee on the LPGA Tour, after a well-earned rest back in Perth over Christmas.
“My first event on the LPGA will be in January, but it still feels far away,” said Green. “I’ll have some down time to get rest and then get back into practicing. The schedule fits in really well.”
1. EMOTIONAL HOME WIN FOR RUMFORD AT WORLD SUPER 6 PERTH
Brett Rumford hailed the most significant win of his career after he claimed the inaugural ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth at Lake Karrinyup in February.
It was hard not to agree. The 40-year-old masterminded the new hybrid format at the first time of asking, finishing the three-round strokeplay five shots clear of the field, before holding his nerve in Sunday’s six-hole match play.
Rumford overcame a man less than half his age 2&1 in the final, 17-year-old Thai Phachara Khongwatwai, to clinch his sixth win on the European Tour.
But most significantly the win represented a bookend to a difficult period of his life after he had failed to secure a victory since 2013. During that time an emotional Rumford admitted that he had fallen out of love with the game as he recovered from surgery and health issues before spending long periods away from his wife and young twin daughters.
He lost his European Tour card too, an issue that he no longer has to contend for another two years at least, thanks to the exemption of his victory.
“It’s amazing. It’s just great to be back,” he said. “It’s been a pretty tough road. Last year was pretty tough and the year before that was even tougher with my surgery – only seeing my twin daughters for four weeks in six months.
“I completely fell out of love with the game and my direction in life went with it. Once I lost my Tour card – I really missed having a main Tour card with my other family.
“It’s really nice to get that back and feel as though I have some worth as a golfer once again.”
Tickets are available for next year’s World Super 6 Perth, which will be staged at Lake Karrinyup from February 8-11, by clicking on this Ticketmaster link.
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