Lonard is the Australian Open champion again

BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2004 Australian Open | Wrap | 28 Nov 2004
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The relentless Peter Lonard today outlasted a battle weary field at the 2004 Hillross Australian Open, to win his second consecutive Australian Open Championship. Peter may well have been frustrated by his run of 22 consecutive pars between the 7th hole on Saturday and the 11th hole today but it was perhaps a blessing in disguise.

While he may not have been making the putts that would close the gap on those ahead, he was keeping himself in the tournament with the consistent no mistake run and when the birdies started to come firstly at the par three 11th, the floodgates opened. He followed with a birdie at the 12th and while the run was briefly halted at the 13th with a miss from seven feet for bogey, he birdied the par five 14th hole after finding the left hand greenside trap. Another birdie would come at the 15th this time from twenty feet and he had the lead by two. It was an amazing turnaround.

Listen to an interview at www.peterlonard.com

A solid par at the 16th was followed by pitch in for birdie at the 17th after missing the green right. Despite having a lot of green to work with, it was the most delicate of pitches and yet it disappeared into the hole at exactly the right speed.

At the par five last, Peter produced a fine drive that may well have created a quandary. With the three shot lead at that point what should he do. Take the water out of play and make sure of five or have a go at the green or take it to the left of the green.

“When Bussy (Pete’s caddy) came to me and said it was only 200 to the front,” said Peter “I thought, I can get there no problem and so I took it on. I pulled it and it hit the cart path and from there it became even more difficult. Even when I was over the ball it felt like I should be chipping it down there.”

He could not, and did not, want to go for the flag with his third so he hit it towards the back edge hoping for a two putt but when his pitch rolled just off the back, a six was on the cards. Six he took and it was then up to the remaining few on the course to see if they could match his three under score.

Rod Pampling and Richard Green started the day at five and four under respectively, but they were soon struggling. Pampling bogeyed the first then double bogeyed the third and for the first time in 31 holes, the lead was no longer his. Green had established a narrow one shot lead but with the manner in which both Green and Pampling were playing, there were many lurking in the background who were now beginning to fancy their chances.

Paul Gow birdied the first but then bogeyed the 2nd and 4th. A double bogey at the 10th appeared to have cost him his chance, but two holes later, courtesy of consecutive birdies, he was back within one. His run ended there but he will take a lot of good from his week.

Stuart Appleby struggled through the front nine and when he reached the turn he was at even par and still three behind the leaders. A bogey at the 10th took him supposedly out of contention but two holes later came the turnaround. He birdied the 12th, then the 14th, and then at the 16th he would birdie again just as Peter Lonard was making bogey at the last.

The difference was just one and when Appleby was unable to birdie the 16th his task at the par five, 18th, was clear. Make birdie to tie, and eagle to win.

He drove it into the left rough complicating the issue and clearly aimed it at the left edge of the green with his second to avoid any mishaps with the water. Appleby missed the green left and then pitched to three metres. Make it or Lonard successfully defends. He missed and Lonard is once again the Australian Open Champion.

Steve Bowditch, who recently won his first professional event, the Queensland Open at the Ipswich Golf Club, earned his biggest cheque in the game, $86,000, by finishing strongly for a share of third with Rod Pampling. Pampling birdied the last to join his fellow Queenslander in that position.

Lonard, who formally announced this week that he had split with his long term coach Gary Edwin, made a statement with his win. Firstly that he is back to his best and secondly that he can now put what turned out to be a disappointing year behind him. A broken rib around New Year set him on to the back foot and he was never really able to get going again.

To his credit he kept at it and in the end this is a just reward for a lot of hard work and determination to turn an ordinary year around.

Photo – Anthony Powter/Snapeture Sports

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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

    Read all of Bruce's articles »

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