Victoria’s biggest asset will be experience as it hunts back-to-back men’s Interstate Series titles at The Grange in Adelaide.
Seven of the eight members of last year’s triumphant outfit are back for another crack in 2018 as the Victorian men chase back-to-back crowns for the second time in five years.
Captain Zach Murray believes the team is tighter than ever after last year’s thrilling one-point win in the final over NSW and a strong lead-up to Adelaide in 2018.
“I think with the incorporation of the Elite Squad in conjunction with the VIS this year, it’s brought us all a little bit closer together,” says Murray.
“We pretty much have the equivalent to a state training a couple of times a week, all year-round.
“There’s a lot of bonding time for us and were able to practice and play against each other all year, so when it comes time an Interstate Series, we’re pretty familiar with everyone’s games. Most importantly we get along, so I think it will be a very, very fun week.”
The man who sunk the winning putt at Melville Glades in 2017 – newly-minted pro Cam John – is the only player not making the trip to Adelaide as the Vics look to defend.
John’s replacement is Royal Melbourne’s Darcy Brereton, the 23-year-old set to debut for the Victorian men’s team after rocketing into calculations on the back of a strong summer of golf.
“I’ve gotten to know Darcy pretty well over the last couple of years, he’s an incredibly hard worker and he’s driven to improve his golf,” says Murray.
“He’s been chipping away over the last couple of months working towards the week so it will be good to see how he goes.”
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Playing at the top of the order in 2017, Murray came up against fellow Australian young guns Min Woo Lee, Shae Wools-Cobb and Travis Smyth (twice).
The captain feels better positioned to lead from the front twelve months on.
“I just want to do what I can for the team captaincy-wise and then when it comes to individual stuff, just try to get a point for the team every match,” says Murray.
“Obviously last year was a bit of a disappointment personally, I was talking to one of the coaches last night and I said to him ‘That was probably my worst week of the year’.
“I know I can compete against Min Woo, Trav and Shae. It just came down to me not freeing up. I just wasn’t swinging that well, I think I just put a bit too much pressure on myself playing at number one.
“I’d imagine Micha [Dave Micheluzzi] will probably play number one this year but I think it just comes down to me being in better form and being a bit more mature.”
Murray, Brereton and the in-form Micheluzzi teed it up in the 2014 Australian Amateur Championship at The Grange but despite reaching the quarter-finals, Murray may be trying to forget that week.
“I’ve played a fair bit there and it’s a pretty cool venue and a good match play course so it’ll be great fun,”says Murray.
“It was actually the hottest day on Earth in Adelaide when we played there in 2014. It was 47 degrees.
“So, fond memories.”
The men’s and women’s Interstate Series begin on Tuesday, 8 May, with the women’s final on Thursday and the men’s on Friday.