Date: August 29, 2016
Author: Tony Durkin

Normans conquer the Open

e one man named Norman won the Queensland Golf Open and then went on to conquer the golfing world, another Norman mastered the event in record-breaking fashion.

Back in 1983, the same year he joined the US PGA Tour following his stint as the leading money earner in Europe, Greg Norman returned to Royal Queensland to win the first of his two Queensland Opens. The Great White Shark had plied his apprenticeship trade at RQ and shot rounds of 67, 68, 70 and 72 to beat fellow Queenslander Ossie Moore and Victorian Bob Shearer by a stroke.

But despite Norman’s superb overseas record, which had him spending 331 weeks as the No.1 golfer in the world, it was another golfer of the same name that dominated the Queensland Open.

Norman Von Nida, 22 years older than the Shark, is a five-time winner of the Queensland Open and shares the record for the most victories. And he was the first golfer to win the event in three successive years.

At the time the resident professional at Nudgee Golf Club, 21-year-old Von Nida first saluted in 1935, a decade after the tournament was born. He then went back-to-back-to-back, a feat only he and Billy Dunk (1972-73-74) have achieved in the 91 years of the Open.

Von Nida won again in 1940, 1945, 1953 and finally, at 47 years of age, in 1960.

And three years after winning his first Open, Greg Norman returned to win again in 1986, this time at the Coolangatta-Tweed Heads course. Fresh from victory in the British Open at Turnberry and being the first golfer to earn more than $1 million in prizemoney, Norman shot a first round 67, followed by three 70s, to beat NSW youngster Brett Ogle.

NSW professional Eric Cremin was another prolific winner, with five victories between 196 and 1957. His first win, at Brisbane Golf Club, was a by a massive 19 strokes, with a 10-under course record score of 282.

Amateurs fared well in the early years, and in fact the very first winner was an amateur – Harry Sinclair. Other amateurs to win the Queensland Open were Jack Radcliffe (1933), Jim Ferrier (1934, 38 and 39), Sommie Mackay (1967), Jeff Senior (1979) and the most recent, Stuart Appleby in 1991.

Appleby, a winner nine times on the US PGA Tour and still playing, was the winner the last time the event was played at The Brisbane Golf Club.

Two of the amateur winners, Radcliffe and Mackay, had interesting backgrounds. Radcliffe, a Rhodes Scholar and headmaster at The Southport School, was a champion tennis player who also won the Queensland Tennis Open. And Mackay was the younger brother of Test cricketer Ken ‘Slasher’ Mackay.

Another strong family connection was father and son, Charlie and Jack Brown. Dad Charlie won the Open in 1932 and his son Jack in 1958, to be the only father-and-son victors.

Apart from those mentioned, many of the biggest names in Australian golf have won the Queensland Open. Ossie Pickworth, Kel Nagle, Ted Ball, Bruce Devlin, Graham Marsh, David Graham, Peter Senior, Ian Baker-Finch, Scott Hend and Steven Bowditch are among them.