Date: September 12, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Seasons reach crunch time

As the pointy end of many tours approaches, every shot suddenly has greater importance.

For some Aussies pushing their cases for a 2018 promotion, it’s already too late; for others, it’s all starting to come together.

Hannah Green, happily for the popular West Australian, falls neatly into the second category.

Green, 20, added a few more dollars to her name at the weekend with a T22 finish on the Symetra Tour’s visit to Garden City, Kansas, but Canadian Anne-Catherine Tanguay’s victory actually dropped the Australian down a rung to sixth in the Race to the Card standings.

The top 10 at season’s end will earn full playing rights on the LPGA Tour.

As it stands, Green’s $US61,290 season haul has her more than $US13,000 clear of the 11th-ranked woman and, for perspective, No.10 on the 2016 money list earnt $US67,577 and there are four consecutive events remaining on the Symetra schedule.

Of the other Aussie women on tour, Rebecca Artis is 45th with $US14,928, Steph Na – who fared well at the weekend to finish T6 in Kansas – is 52nd with $US13,136, Jayde Panos is 96th, Emily McLennan is 138th and Wanasa Zhou is 160th.

On the other side of the Atlantic, it’s worth noting that Melbourne’s Su Oh, a regular on the LPGA Tour, is ranked 12th on the Ladies European Tour order of merit with three good cheques in her only starts – the Victorian, Scottish and Women’s British Opens – and the Evian Championship immediately ahead.

Impressively, Perth’s Whitney Hillier is also 19th on the LET standings.

Shifting to the men’s game, the clock hit midnight for Cam Davis and Ollie Goss on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada.

Goss, of Perth, and Davis, of Sydney, each needed a high finish at this weekend’s Ontario Championship to reach the top 60 exempt into next week’s season-ending Tour Championship and with fully exempt status for 2018.

Goss made the cut and closed with a fine 69 to finish T51 at two under,  but paid a heavy price for going six over in a five-hole stretch in a third-round 77 that ultimately left him at 68th for the season.

Davis, despite three second-round birdies and an eagle, suffered through six bogeys in a 73 that enforced a weekend off. The individual champion at last year’s World Teams Championship while representing Australia, Davis slid from 71st to 76th on the order of merit, ending his 2017 rookie Canadian adventure.

Agonisingly, both men finished less than $CAD3000 from the safety and promise of the top 60.

Things are less pressing timewise for Ryan Ruffels on the LatinoAmerica Tour, where there are still five events remaining before the Tour Championship in early December.

The young Victorian, who has played appreciably fewer events than most of his LatinoAmerica peers because of his flirtations on the US PGA Tour, sits ninth on the order of merit, with the top five gaining conditional Web.Com Tour status for next year, and the winner a full card.

Ruffels has $US43,269, just more than $US8000 behind Tee-K Kelly in fifth spot with leader Jose de Jesus Rodriguez well clear on $87,030.

The good news for Ruffels is that he played the closing section of the 2016 schedule and will be more familiar with the courses, most definitely in Argentina where two events will be played.

One thing Ruffels will need to work on, though, is his consistency – the dual Australian Junior champ and Golf Australia rookie pro squad member made 15 birdies and two eagles (including a hole-in-one) at the weekend in Mexico, yet finished three over after 16 bogeys and three doubles en route to a share of 40th.

Brady Watt missed a major opportunity to move up the order of merit when he closed 79-76  in Mexico after a T45 finish.

Sadly, Watt, who had carded 69-68 to put himself in contention, had reached nine under with two early birdies in his third round, a score that was ultimately good enough to reach the playoff.

But the West Australian imploded after a quadruple-bogey nine on the sixth in round three and ended up at four over, leaving himself in 179th in the order of merit.

South Australian David Lutterus is marginally ahead of Watt in 171st, but has only played one event, while the Gold Coast’s Troy Kennedy is 183rd.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Atlanta-based South Australian Nick Cullen is the best placed of a host of Aussies on the European Challenge Tour.

Cullen sits 39th on the Road To Oman rankings, inside the all-important top 45 who will not only earn a start in the season-ending NBO Golf Classic in Oman in early November, but also conditional status on the main European Tour for 2018.

Geelong’s Ben Eccles is ranked 79th, but has shown form enough to move through the ranks with seven events remaining, five of which are among the season’s most lucrative.

Wollongong’s Jordan Zunic is ranked 103rd, one spot ahead of Tasmanian Ryan McCarthy with Daniel Fox 135th, Dimi Papadatos 190th, Daniel Gaunt 203rd and Terry Pilkadaris 238th.

On the Japan Golf Tour, Queensland veteran Brad Kennedy continues to excel, sitting at 19th on the money list with a dozen events remaining, while young Victorian Todd Sinnott is making his presence felt at 25th. Canberra’s Brendan Jones is 30th, Adelaide’s Adam Bland is 37th, Sydney’s Won Joon Lee is 41st while Victorians Matt Griffin and David Bransdon lie 65th and 67th, respectively.

Remarkably, Scott Hend, despite playing on so many different tours around the world, is again the leader of the Asian Tour’s order of merit after his runner-up finish in the European Masters. The Queenslander is more than $US50,000 clear of second-placed American David Lipsky.

South Australian Jason Norris and Sinnott are also in the top 10 courtesy of wins earlier in the year.