Redcliffe teenager Doug Klein has completed a wire-to-wire for his second consecutive title, today clinching the highly-regarded Gary Player Classic on the eve of his 20th birthday.
Klein streeted the field to win the 18-20 years division, Louis Dobbelaar (Brookwater) won the 16-17 years division while Southport’s Elvis Smylie clinched the under 15 years title.
The Gary Player Classic is an Australian Boys' Ranking Event open to male golfers under the age of 21 years, and is contested in three divisions. In its 46th year and still financially supported by the great South African golfer, the event was held at Brisbane’s Pacific Golf Club over the past four days.
Three weeks ago Klein won the Queensland Amateur in style under match play conditions at Pacific Harbour, and while that win was impressive, today’s victory was empathic. His four-round total of 279 (69-69-71-70) was nine-under the card and 11 shots better than runner-up, Lochie Coleborn of Mt Coolum.
Yet the humble 19-year-old was reserved in his assessment.
“I played really solid,” was his modest response to four rounds of golf – each under par – that included 17 birdies and just eight blemishes.
“Having two really strong wins back to back is a confidence builder going into the Isuzu Queensland Open in a couple of weeks.”
But when asked if he thought he could win the Open – in which he finished fifth last year – Klein confidently replied, “I’m not going into it to finish second”.
Klein’s coach, Wayne Rostron, paid tribute to the 19-year-old for a ‘fantastic work ethic’ and said the harder he worked the better player he was becoming.
“We have been working together on a few minor things since the start of the year and it is obviously starting to bear fruit,” Rostron said.
“Doug’s ball flight was quite low, so we have tried to reduce the amount of side spin, particularly with his irons. Now, with the ball coming in higher he has more control when it lands on the green.
“It also means he can be a little more aggressive, especially with his wedges at tight pins.”
Dobbelaar (290; 73-70-72-75), who is a member at both Brookwater and Brisbane, won by five strokes from Jed Morgan (Royal Queensland) and Ryan Stitt (Burleigh).
The 16-year-old said he fought his thought process at times over the four days and was delighted with the way he kept his game on track.
“I have been struggling a little of late and at times I was all at sea mentally. But I was pleased with the way I held it together and to win by five shots in such a strong field was both satisfying and confidence building,” he said.
For Smylie, the son of former Australian tennis great Liz Smylie, his 10-stroke victory over Kaito Chiu (Brisbane) came with a huge sense of pride.
“With a famous mum and a name like Elvis, there is some pressure on me I suppose, but I enjoy that,” said the 15-year-old grade 10 Distance Education student who revealed his dad Peter was a huge Elvis Presley fan.
His four-round total of 293 (72-77-70-74) was the fourth best score returned in all divisions and included 11 birdies on the tough Pacific layout. But, for a horror four-hole stretch in windy conditions on Wednesday that cost him six over, he could well have broken par.
“In those early holes on day two, when the wind picked up, I did struggle, especially with my driver. But I was happy with the way I adjusted and finished the final 13 holes one under,” he said.
Apart from the superb finish by all three divisional winners, the highlight of the final day of the tournament was a hole-in-one on the 13th by Zac Maxwell of Virginia Golf Club.