Defending champion Gordon Claney is one of the favourites but the man himself is tipping one of his teammates to win the 2019 Australian men’s senior amateur championship beginning at Maroochy River Golf Club on the Sunshine Coast tomorrow.
Claney, 66, a scratch marker from Kingston Heath and longtime Melbourne pennant player, won at Spring Valley last year having taken his first national title in Western Australia in 2016.
But it is another Victorian player, Greg Rhodes, the Sunraysia legend who won the title in 2017 and 2015, whom Claney believes could be the winner.
Rhodes has won the past four order-of-merit titles at senior level. “If he plays to the best of his ability, he’ll win, because he’s just better than us,” said Claney, who will join Rhodes in the four-man Victorian team who will contest the teams section of the tournament.
Claney played pennant golf for Kingston Heath for more than 30 years and took up senior golf when he retired from his assistant principal’s job at a Melbourne college in 2013. He has loved the involvement. “I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s been something to do and I’ve travelled around Australia and been lucky enough to get into some Australian teams and travel overseas.
“Playing seniors is good. There’s no dummy spitting or anything like that. We just sort of plod along and do the best that we can with limited ability.’’
The reinvented Maroochy River club at Bli Bli, near Twin Waters, steps back into the sun this week as it hosts a national-level event. Designed by Graham Marsh, it was opened four years ago in the wake of the sale of Horton Park Golf Club to the local council.
The club negotiated to buy Twin Waters but ultimately bought a parcel of land beside the Maroochy River and built a new course. It has won plaudits as one of the best on the Sunshine Coast in the years since, and previously hosted the national women's senior amateur in 2017 as well as the Katherine Kirk Classic.
At 6441 metres the par-72 layout will test Australia’s best senior players with water threats on virtually every hole.
Claney said the course was in great condition but it is the wind that will be the determining factor.
“It’s going to be about the wind. Today it was blowing 35 km/h today but the locals said it was a mere zephyr.”
Last year’s runner-up James Lavender is in the field along with New Zealander Michael Barltrop and Hong Kong-based American Doug Williams.
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A strong field of 135 players is competing this week over 54 holes, with the climax on Thursday.
The full field is here