The 2002 Australian Open champion Stephen Allan said he’d circled the event for his shot at Stonehaven Cup glory as soon as he knew it was being played at Victoria.
The popular Melburnian, then 29, lived near the famous Sandbelt course and, despite having played his amateur pennant for nearby Woodlands, was “full bottle” on Victoria, a club that suited his eye and of which he had great knowledge.
“The highlight of my career winning was my national Open. My family and friends were there, it was a great week for me,” Allan told the Inside The Ropes podcast this week.
“We’d played state golf there for Victoria, when I first turned pro we had the Vic Open at Victoria and we had the Australian PGA at Victoria, so I knew the course well and I loved it.
“So when the Open was (going to be) played there, I really looked forward to playing it.
“I just scraped in to the top 150 on the PGA Tour which meant I didn’t have to play second stage (of Q-School), otherwise I’d have missed the Open … so maybe it was meant to be.
“I was playing well at the end of the season, got back to Australia a week before, the greens were rock hard, I had a practice round with Geoff Ogilvy on the Friday before and I had a week to get back into Sandbelt golf … and it all came together.”
Those greens soon became the centre of one of the great controversies of modern Australian golf with the first day’s play ultimately abandoned mid-round when some of the putting surfaces became too quick to play.
But while Allan understands the odd nature of having a 54-hole national championship, he remains adamant it doesn’t diminish his effort.
“Not at all,” he said.
“I think if I had been leading on Saturday night and it got washed out, then I’d be happy to take the asterisk.
“But the hardest thing in golf is to be there and go through the last day and I did that … just like any other tournament winner has to.
“Sadly I haven’t done that at other times in my career, but that week I did,” he said with typical good humour.
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