Date: September 09, 2017
Author: David Newberry

The road to greatness starts at the Qld Open

The names on the TB Hunter Cup read like a who’s who of Australian golf and that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Major winners Greg Norman, Ian Baker-Finch, David Graham and Kel Nagle have lifted the trophy as have other notables like Peter Senior, Bruce Devlin, Stuart Appleby, Graham Marsh, Norman von Nida, Ossie Pickworth and Jim Ferrier to name a few.

That’s because dating back to 1925 the Queensland Open has attracted the cream of the professional and amateur crop.

For many, including two recent winners – Andrew Dodt (2014) and defending champion Brett Coletta – winning the Queensland Open has been a career highlight.

“Winning the Queensland Open is one of my proudest achievements”, Dodt said.

“I remember very clearly looking at the names on the trophy (TB Hunter Cup) at the pro-am lunch and thought ‘I really want my name on the trophy’.

“I don’t think I have played a tournament with so much desire to win.

“I’m proud my name is on that trophy and it’s definitely a highlight win in Australia,” the 31-year-old added.

Coletta, 21, says his victory last year has opened doors including status on the PGA Tour Canada.

“So far it’s my career highlight,” he said. “Any professional win while playing as an amateur shouldn’t go unnoticed.

“Winning the Queensland Open was massive because a couple of weeks before that I had a good opportunity to close out the Asian Amateur and I let that slip through my fingers.”

That cost him a spot in the US Masters, but he learned much from the experience.

“Knowing I was playing well enough to capitalise on what I had been working towards and getting another opportunity so quickly and be able to close it out did wonders for my confidence,” he added.

A star player of the future, Coletta’s goal is to join his idol Adam Scott on the US PGA Tour.

The Melburnian is just one of a number of new breed young Australians taking on the world along with Curtis Luck and Ryan Ruffels.

They have been able to do this with confidence because of opportunities to play four-round tournaments like the Queensland Open while amateurs.

“A tournament like the Queensland Open is extremely important,” Coletta stated. “It gives that insight into what professional golf is like.

“I didn’t think there was any comparison playing an amateur event to playing a professional event. It is different and to gain experience in professional events like the Queensland Open is second to none.”

Dodt, who plies his trade on the European Tour, agreed.

“For the likes of the younger professionals coming through, tournaments like the Queensland Open are really important,” he said.

“It’s definitely a stepping stone to bigger things, but it’s important for tournament golf in this country.

“I’m a proud Queenslander and winning the Queensland Open was definitely a goal of mine.”

Dodt, who turned professional in 2007, believes his best golf is ahead of him.

“I want to make hay while the sun is shining in the next 10 years,” he said.

“They say golfers peak in their 30s. Well, I’m 31 and feel I have a lot of experience under my belt. I have played a lot of tournaments so I feel like I can put my best foot forward and really climb the world rankings.

I am around 150th and would like to be top-100 by the end of the year.”

Dodt, who spends 25 weeks a year travelling and playing on the European Tour, resides in Newcastle with his wife Ashleigh.

Still, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love playing the European Tour, I love travelling but at the same time I love being at home in Newcastle,” said Dodt, who grew up on a farm at Gatton 90km/s west of Brisbane.

“I’m a pretty lucky guy. I’m playing the European Tour, I’m married to a great girl, I have a great family and I have been blessed and lucky.”

Unfortunately, Dodt won’t play the upcoming Isuzu Queensland Open at The Brisbane Golf Club from October 26-29.

The date clashed with the rich WCG-HSBC Champions tournament in China.

Still, Isuzu Queensland Open defending champion Coletta will be in Brisbane to defend his title.

“I definitely will defend my title,” said Coletta, who has an intimate knowledge of the Brisbane layout.

“We played the interstate series there last year and I played eight rounds in six days so I know the course.”

Then there was the Queensland Open pro-am and another four tournament rounds. For the record, Coletta carded rounds of 67-69-67-70 for a 273 total – one of the lowest winning totals in the tournament’s history.

So what can the golfing public expect from the defending champion?

Well, you might be “freaked out” by how far this young man belts a golf ball.

At 5’10” (177.8cm), Coletta stops the scale at 65kgs but that doesn’t restrict him launching 300-plus yard drives.

“I sometimes freak myself out how far I can hit it,” Coletta said without a hint of arrogance.

“Length-wise, I’m not the biggest guy out there but I can keep up with the bigger guys. I have always had that x-factor, but sometimes I still freak myself out.”

Age: 31
DOB: 26/1/1986 (Australia Day)
Born: Queensland
Turned pro: 2007
Coach: Jim Barden
Pro wins: Three – Avantha Masters (2010), 2015 True Thailand Classic (co-sanctioned European and Asian tours) and the Queensland Open (2014)
Majors played: One – The Open T44 in 2017
Amateur wins: Victorian Junior Masters (2003), Malaysian Amateur (2006), Australian Amateur Stroke Play (2007)

Age: 21
DOB: 6/7/1996
Club: Sandhurst Golf Club, Woodlands Golf Club
Most memorable golfing moment: 2015 medallist at US Amateur
Career highlight: Isuzu Queensland Open win
Coach: Marty Joyce
Career low round and where: 61 – Sandhurst Club (champions course)
Past results:
2014 Toyota World Junior Team Championship – individual runner-up
2014 South Australian Junior – champion
2014 Tamar Valley Cup – champion
2014 Victorian Junior Masters – champion
2014 Australian Boys Amateur – 3rd
2015 Fifth Porter Cup
2015 Runner-up Port Phillip Am