Nathan ‘Schnitzel’ Williams has done what no Penola golfer has been able to do previously, defeat Ian ‘Jock’ Agnew in the final of the Club Championship at Penola Golf Club on Sunday. Played in warm and slightly breezy conditions it was almost perfect conditions for golf.
The course had been prepared immaculately with the greens slick after being freshly mowed that morning.
Chasing his ninth Open Championship, Agnew got out of the blocks well whilst Williams started nervously, taking a while to hit his straps. Agnew shot out to a four-hole lead before Williams started to peg him back. He reduced the deficit to two by the lunch break.
The second 18 saw Williams draw level then hit the front not long after the break. It was a mixture of Williams taking the game to the next level and Agnew not at his best which is crucial at this level. As expected, Williams’ putting under pressure was exceptional and gave him the edge. Playing the 14th the second time round, a crucial putt by Williams and miss by Agnew proved critical and Williams iced the match on the 16th with a birdie winning 4&2. By this stage a large gallery had gathered to watch the conclusion and historic moment.
It was Williams’ first Open Championship after finishing runner up the previous year. The left hander was a well-deserved winner and has a complete game - one thinks this won’t be his last title. For Agnew, making it to his ninth championship final is a feat in itself and he was brave in defeat.
Evans wins his second title
In the B-Grade, Curt Evans won his second B-Grade Championship defeating Paul Harmer comfortably 6&5. For the first half it was a tight game with player trading holes with regular pars. Evans chipped in on the 5th for a birdie and also birdied the 17th to add to it.
Despite a nervous start, Harmer hung in and regular saved his game with deft chipping. Not to be outdone, Evans short game was just as good – particularly with the putter.
After 22 holes the game was square, but a string of missed putts by Harmer saw Evans quickly get out to a four-hole lead by the 27th. Evans couldn’t miss and continued to pile on the pressure birdieing 10, and parring 11 and 13 to close out the game on the 13th.
It was a solid win for Evans, who has really improved over the past 12 months and won’t be far away from Open Qualification in 2020. For Harmer it more heartache, losing his 5th successive final.
McPherson prevails in close match
Shane McPherson has won a tight battle with club stalwart Peter Walker in the C-Grade final. In a game that was close all day, the lead changed more often than bread prices at the IGA. Walker had his nose in front after the first 18, largely thanks to several lengthy putts from off the green. The turning point came on the 24th however when McPherson finally managed to sink a curving 20-foot putt while Walker pulled his short putt wide.
From there McPherson played smart, forgoing the wayward driver for the reliable 3-wood off the tee, never surrendering the lead and claiming his first club championship win on the 34th hole, winning 3&2 in an absorbing contest for the small gallery following. For Walker, it was a courageous effort and a remarkable achievement for the 82-year-old to make the final of the 36 hole event, and nearly win it.
Mathys wins in an upset
Ant Mathys managed to reverse his recent poor run of form against the red-hot John Gregory in the final of the D-Grade. Gregory had been burning it up with great scores in his previous 4 rounds and started as red hot favourite.
Mathys loved the match play format and started like a bullet, rushing out to a 3-hole lead after the first 5 holes. Hitting the ball long and straight he extended the lead to 6 holes at one stage before Gregory pegged a few back.
Mathys went into the lunch break 3 up and maintained this lead for the back 18. This was the third game that finished on the 16th hole with Mathys taking out his 3rd championship win 4&2.
Redman claims championship
Deb Redman has turned the tables on her opponent Claire Mossop in an enthralling battle that wasn't decided until the 36th hole at Penola Golf Club on Sunday.
The two have a history of close encounters with both competing in last year's final with that match going down to the 37th hole.
In a slow paced final, Mossop held a slender lead for most of the day. Players were trading holes regularly through the match and with nine to go, the game was in the balance. Redman started to accelerate on the final nine holes and eventually she hit the front with a few holes to go was one up starting the 36th. They squared the hole giving Redman a one-hole victory.
At presentations, Redman commented after yet another epic battle that she wasn’t ready for an encore!
Mossop was gallant in defeat and deserves praise for her efforts.
Kilsby wins B-Grade
The B grade final was played between Newcomer Sam Evans and the experienced Sue Kilsby. Kilsby used her experience to get away to an early lead before Evans started to peg a few holes back. Once past early game nerves, Evans’ golf improved as she worked into the game.
It was a match that never blew out with Evans keeping in touch. Kilsby was incredibly consistent and this proved to be the difference as she fought her way to a 4&3 victory. Despite the loss, it was a solid debut by the young golfer who is likely to feature in finals for many years to come. Kilsby was excited to win the event and acknowledge the quality of the match.
Coote win number five
Janice Coote is somewhat of an experienced hand at winning championships, having won four C-Grade titles previously. On this occasion was another newish player to the club in Tanya Mourbey. The experienced Coote got out to an early lead and whilst Mourbey kept in touch she couldn’t make up the difference. Coote was steady as always and her consistency proved to be the difference as she took out the match 4 &3. This won't be the last we see of Mourbey with plenty of years of championship golf ahead of her.
It's that time of year when Penola's best golfers fight it out for the championship glory proudly sponsored by Patrick of Coonawarra.
This year's Men's finals:
Open: Nathan Williams v Jock Agnew
B-Grade: Curt Evans v Paul Harmer
C-Grade: Shane McPherson v Peter Walker
D-Grade: John Gregory v Ant Mathys
This year's Women's finals:
Open: Claire Mossop v Deb Redman
B-Grade: Sue Kilsby v Sam Evans
C-Grade: Janice Coote v Tanya Mourbey
An insightful breakdown of each match can be found in the coveted Penola Golf Club Championship Budget.