Allenby secures PGA title with career shot

BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2005 Australian PGA Championship | Wrap | 04 Dec 2005
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Day Four Photo Gallery – Australian PGA 2005

After three days where most of the talk centred around the weather and as to just how many holes would be played each day, Sunday afternoon at the Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship focused on what we were really here for – to decide a winner.

Three hours after they had completed their third rounds, the final group of Robert Allenby, Nathan Green and Nick O’Hern teed off on what promised to be a great battle for not only the Australian PGA Championship but a centenary one at that. The winner would not only have a PGA title but an even greater place in PGA history.

There would not be a lot of movement amongst the leaders early in the final round. Maybe it was tougher pin positions, perhaps the importance of the occasion, or just a gentle breeze that had finally arrived, but it took several holes for the predicted birdie fest to arrive. When it did arrive, it arrived in numbers.

Mathew Goggin, who had played so well over the final three rounds at the Australian Open last week and who has recently regained status on the USPGA Tour, was the first to challenge the leading group. Goggin birdied the second, third and fourth holes to get to twelve under and when he added a further birdie at the sixth he was within one of Green and Allenby, who were playing two groups behind. Goggin stayed in touch by making birdie at the 8th and when he hit a beautiful drive at the 12th and followed up with a mid-iron to the par five, he had set up a two putt birdie which would take him to fourteen under and for the first time, a share of the lead.

Allenby bogeyed the 6th and 7th holes before an 8 iron approach to the 10th hole all but went in to set up another birdie which saw him move into the outright lead as Green bogeyed that same hole. He held that outright lead for ten minutes before Goggin joined him but there were others right on their heels.

Rod Pampling, who had finished runner up to Peter Senior here in 2003, was slowly but surely moving into the fray. Despite a bogey at the sixth hole he reached thirteen under and was just one shot from the lead when he made birdie at the tenth. Also at thirteen under was Nick O’Hern who, as is his want, was not about to go away. O’Hern seldom wins but he puts himself in position on so many occasions that the door must surely open again. Would it be today? The next ninety minutes would tell the story.

A brave tee shot at the par three eleventh by Allenby was rewarded with a birdie. The front right pin position just over the water was a tempting but dangerous target and Allenby received just reward for the bold line he took from the tee. That moved him to fifteen under and the lead was his for five minutes before Mathew Goggin holed a good putt at the 13th to join him again.

Wade Ormsby managed to get up and down from the bunker for birdie at the par five 12th after he had missed short putt at the 11th and he was at thirteen under with Nick O’Hern, Rod Pampling and Nathan Green.

Despite missing the green with his second at the par five 12th, Allenby managed to make birdie to take the outright lead again and consolidated that with a solid par at the potentially dangerous thirteenth.

While Allenby was consolidating his lead, one of his nearest challengers Nick O’Hern, was going the other way. O’Hern’s second to the thirteenth found the water and he took double bogey to drop out of winning contention.

Wade Ormsby, who had so boldly held his place amongst the leaders, finally made a mental error at the par five thirteenth when he drove it too far and found the water which divides the fairway at around 270 metres. That would be the end of any chance Ormsby would have to challenge those ahead over the closing holes. He was able to make par but at this particular time he needed more.

Goggin’s run continued at the sixteenth hole when his short iron approach came to rest ten feet from the hole and when that went in he had rejoined Allenby in the lead. Goggin’s second at the 17th finished seven metres from the hole and this would provide a chance to sneak ahead at a crucial moment. The putt never looked like missing and he had moved to seventeen under and nine under for the day.

Allenby took a conservative approach from the tee at the fifteenth hole with an iron taking the water out of play. He laid up with his second, playing the hole as a genuine three shotter and hit his third to five metres from where he holed for a birdie to join Goggin again, but this time at seventeen under. It was punch and counter punch.

At the eighteenth, which presents one of the more demanding tee shots in tournament golf in Australia, Goggin pulled his tee shot left and flirted with the water. Faced with a hanging lie from there, he played his second from 130 metres well right of the flag and left himself a putt of ten metres down the hill. He safely two putted for a magnificent round of 63 and he would await his fate as Allenby stood over a five metre birdie putt at the sixteenth.

Allenby missed that putt and so it was to the 17th to try for that tie breaking birdie. He found the fairway and then the green and was left with a putt from five metres. He appeared mystified when the putt did not swing as much as he thought it might and so it would be the eighteenth to either force the playoff or make the one birdie to take the title.

He took three wood from the tee and found the fairway. The first part of the equation was complete. Now with an eight iron in his hand he hit a shot that started right of the flag but drew back to finish a metre from the hole. It was something special. It was what champions do – produce it when they need it most. "As soon as I hit it I knew it was perfect and that it was only a matter of how far it would fly, he would say later. “My favourite shot under pressure is the little draw and I was starting it at the middle of the green and drawing it in.” He would also describe it as a shot that compares only with his three wood to the first playoff hole at the Nissan Open a few years back when he won a six man playoff for that title.

He still had the putt to negotiate and putts of less distance have been missed in these circumstances but this was the in form Allenby and he was not about to let such a good approach shot be lost in the memory of a missed putt. When the putt disappeared he had won his third Australian PGA Championship but this time it was a PGA with a special emphasis and it would set up a chance to complete an significant treble in Australian golf namely the triple crown of the Australian Open, the Australian PGA and the MasterCard Masters when he tees it up next week at Huntingdale.

There were many shots that Allenby will look back on, more especially that at the last, but there were others on the back nine that helped forge this win. His approach to the tenth with that same eight iron was all over the flag and all but went in. At the very next he hit a seven iron which he said he cut up against the right to left wind and a shot that he described as ’just perfect’.

Allenby now has a busy week ahead to accommodate if he is to win that historic treble. Tonight he flies to Melbourne and will be awake at 5:00am to attend his Cancer Charity Day, which has already raised $8 million in the years it has been running. He then has a pro-am on Tuesday followed by a tournament dinner on Tuesday night.

“Wednesday I have kept free,” he said. “I have a visit to a specialist on Wednesday to check on my hand but other than that I will have the day to myself.”

Photo – Anthony Powter

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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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