Date: February 21, 2009
Author: Chris Pike, Sportal

McGowan, Bickerton focus on positives

While British pair Ross McGowan and John Bickerton fell short at the Johnnie Walker Classic after leading with a round to play, both took plenty out of their week in Perth. McGowan and Bickerton were well-positioned after three rounds at the Vines, but a disappointing front nine from Bickerton and back nine from McGowan proved costly. McGowan looked on track for victory at 16-under after an eagle on the par-five ninth hole, and at 17-under with a two-shot lead after a birdie on the 12th but then it all started to fall apart. The 26-year-old bogeyed holes 14 and 16 to lose his lead and then required an eagle to set up a playoff with Lee on the final hole. He could only manage a birdie, though, to finish tied at 16-under for second place. Bickerton had a bad start to the day dropping a shot at the fifth hole, but got back on track with a birdie at nine. However, another bogey at 11 put him some way off the pace at 13-under. Birdies at 15 and 16 had him back within a chance of forcing a playoff if he could make up the two shots on Lee, but he only managed to par the last two holes. McGowan, who was gunning for the biggest win in his fourth year as a professional, was disappointed to miss the chance but still happy with his week. “I played pretty nicely all day on the back nine, had several in between yardages and was reliant on the wind. I dropped a couple of shots in those and it was a bit frustrating really. It is one of those things when I felt I played nicely but didn&apost get the result,” McGowan said. “I hit a lovely seven iron to within 16 feet at 17 and had a big left-to-right break but misread it. On 18, it was another misread. The greens are very quick and it was tough to get the perfect line all the time. The eagle attempt was from about 25 feet and I hit it the perfect speed but got it a foot beyond the hole.” While it would have been understandable for McGowan to be nervous, he claims he wasn&apost and now is looking forward to playing the Indonesian Open at the New Kuta Golf Resort in Bali. A lowering of temperatures made things easier on Sunday, but the wind changing direction put Bickerton off a little, but he was glad to play well down the stretch and had no hesitation in going for it all on the 18th. “Overall it was a bit disappointing on the last day. I was battling and couldn&apost find my rhythm. The wind was in a totally opposite direction, which made a big difference and you were using different clubs after getting used to what to do all week,” Bickerton said. “That made it more difficult for me personally, but I came good at the end and hit some good shots on the last few holes when I needed to. I went for the eagle on the last and walked off with a par, but if it went in I would have been in a playoff so that&aposs one way of looking at it.” Bickerton enjoyed playing in front of 44,000 spectators at the Vines during the week and now is joining McGowan in Bali before taking some time off. “There was a great crowd this week as well, it was enormous, especially coming down the last. I enjoyed the week and it&aposs my best one of the year so I&aposll enjoy it,” he said. “I&aposm going to Bali and then I&aposm having a few weeks off after seven week straights, I&aposm knackered.”