Date: January 29, 2017
Author: Golf Victoria

Couling, Matsumoto win Traralgon, Oates Vic Open starts

Commonwealth's Tom Couling and Kono Matsumoto from Victoria have secured the final two Amateur exemptions into the 2017 Oates Vic Open after taking out the respective men's and women's titles at the 72-hole Traralgon Classic.

Three days of brilliant sunshine culminated in Traralgon's very own dual in the sun as the field of 60 men & seven women completed the final two rounds around the beautifully presented, parkland style layout.

After trailing overnight leader Harrison Whykes by three strokes, 22-year-old Couling burst into contention with a superb third round of seven-under 65, including an outward half of 30 after six birdies and an eagle. However Whykes wasn't going away and retuned a fine 69 of his own to see the Settlers Run member trail by just a stroke going into the final round.

No stranger to low numbers at Traralgon, Couling put on a show in the afternoon with consecutive birdies on holes 2 thru 5 capped off with an eagle on 6 to extend his lead. The 2013 champion was well on his way to beating his previous score of 22 under until a bogey on 9 slowed the momentum. A further 3 birdies and 2 bogeys coming home solidified the Commonwealth member a 66 off the stick and starting position at the Oates Vic Open by 6 shots over Josh Hetherington of Royal Melbourne. Hetherington rallied today to sneak ahead of Whykes by a mere shot.

Meanwhile in the women's section, Matsumoto's solid seven stroke lead after 36-holes shrank to just three after she returned a 3rd round of 78. Commonwealth teenager Sheradyn Johnson narrowed the gap with a well put together 74 and could have been closer minus a number of bogeys on the back nine coming home.

In the afternoon, the pair battled back off forth with Johnson gaining the lead again half way through the round. Both players threw away shots in the last few holes with the heat starting to take its toll. Matsumoto was too hard to chase down with her steady game holding on to post a 1 over par round of 72 to win by 7 shots from Johnson. The Victoria member and newly inducted Australian citizen will now prepare to tee it up alongside the pros down at 13th Beach Golf Links in a week and a half. 

Shot of the tournament was awarded to Harry Smiles of Peninsula-Kingswood today with an ace on the par 3 15th, flighting a perfect 8 iron from 145m into the hole.

Traralgon Golf Club are to commended on their presentation of the course and hospitality provided by all players. Director of Golf Ron Elliott was a key and enthusiastic figure in progressing the 2017 Championship and following the presentation was buoyant about where the event is heading.

“Traralgon Golf Club has been delighted with the success of the new format for 2017 Traralgon Classic. The members have greatly appreciated the increase in player numbers and have been particularly pleased to have women invited to be part of the event. 

Providing Oates Vic Open status for the winners is an innovation that we hope can continue into the future. The Club would also like to express it appreciation of the organisation and work done by Golf Victoria in facilitating this event. 

We look forward in future years to building this into and even stronger event.”

As part of a new initiative from Golf Victoria, the Traralgon Classic is one of three 72-hole events played in country Victoria over the past six months that have provided both men and women with the opportunity to win amateur exemptions into the 2017 Oates Vic Open. The other two events were the Cobram-Barooga Open Amateur and the Portsea Open Amateur. A fourth event, the Westcoast Open Amateur, is to be played at Warrnambool & Port Fairy Golf Clubs in May and become part of the regional series aligned with the 2018 Oates Vic Open.

The initiative has been very successful with the Ivo Whitton and Susie Tolhurst Trophy events experiencing a spike in entries and interest with players travelling from far and wide to participate. Over time and in close partnership with the respective host clubs, Golf Victoria is looking to further grow the participation in these regional events and consolidate the link with the Oates Vic Open.

Golf Victoria would like to thank all participants for supporting this event and look forward to the season ahead.

Click here for full results and photos from the event.