Date: October 10, 2016
Author: Tony Durkin

Youngsters to challenge the big names

nament director Luke Bates believes a group of young guns invited to play in the Isuzu Queensland Open next week could well be among the most talented to tee it up in the 90-year history of the event.

“Obviously that is a long bow to draw because the tournament stretches way past the memory of us all, but the collective CVs of these up and coming golfers are quite extraordinary,” Bates said.

“The support these players have through the State and National programs enables them to experience a world class daily training environment. A number of them have also just finished a stint of world class events which has stretched from Mexico, USA and now Korea.

“And while the event is still well supported by the likes of defending champion David Bransdon as well as household golfing names Peter Lonard, Adam Crawford, Daniel Popovic and Jarrod Lyle, I am confident the younger brigade in the field may well be those that steal the limelight.”

Without doubt the standout among the youngsters playing at the Brisbane Golf Club next week is Sydney amateur Cameron Davis, who three weeks ago led Australia to its first Eisenhower Trophy triumph in 20 years, by a whopping 19 strokes. And, in winning the individual event with rounds of 67-66-68-68 to reach 17-under, Davis joined an elite group including the great Jack Nicklaus.

Also teeing it up alongside Davis will be his Eisenhower Trophy teammate Harrison Endycott, who finished 16th in the individual event, and the current US Junior Amateur champion, Min Woo Lee.

Eighteen-year-old Lee is the brother of two-time LPGA winner and Australian Olympian Minjee Lee. They are the first brother and sister to have won their respective US Amateur titles.

Current Queensland State Team members and BGC members Charlie Dann, Shae Wools-Cobb and Steven Cox are other amateurs looking to make the most of their invites to play, as is 15-year-old Louis Dobbelaar.

But the tried and tested professionals will no doubt be the ones to beat, and heading that list is Peter Lonard who has contested the US golf majors on 22 occasions with his best finish 11th in the 2002 US Open. Lonard has also been a winner on the PGA Tour of Australasia nine times, including the Australian Masters, Australian Open and Australian PGA.

Following a recent lean trot Lonard has started to find form on the Tour and will play a number of events during the Australian summer.

Daniel Popovic, who won the 2012 PGA Championship at Palmer Coolum in his rookie year on the PGA Tour of Australasia, is another big name in action next week, as is Bronson La Cassie. Now back home in Ipswich, La Cassie’s biggest win was the 2013 Cox Classic on the Tour.

Defending champion David Bransdon has been plying his trade in Europe with seventh at the Czech Challenge his best recent result. He will be looking to recapture his 2015 form at BGC, with his 12-under score at the Isuzu Queensland Open and second in the New Zealand Open among the highlights of his 21-year professional career.

Bransdon was beaten in a play-off at the NZ Open last year by Jordan Zunic, another top performer expected to shine next week. He finished 18th in the Alfred Dunhill Links championship played at St Andrews at the weekend and earlier this year 24-year-old Zunic won the Northern Territory PGA Championship and in 2014 won the China Amateur.

Jarrod Lyle is as well known for his brave fight against leukaemia as he is as a former USPGA Tour player, with his best result a fourth at the Northern Trust Open in 2012. After making just one cut from his past seven starts Lyle is determined to get his once-illustrious career back on track with a good showing at in the Isuzu Queensland Open.

Other household golfing names playing in the 90-year-old event include Steven Jeffress, who won last year’s Fijian Open, 2016 Victorian Open champion Ashley Hall and former USPGA Tour player, James Nitties, who is currently ranked 585th in the world with fifth in the 2016 NZ PGA Championship his best recent result.

Visit the Player Profiles page to see which big names will be teeing it up later this month.