Final day at Huntingdale full of intrigue
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2005 MasterCard Masters | Final Round | 11 Dec 2005
Despite the fact that Robert Allenby is facing the possibility of winning the triple crown of Australian golf in one season, the overriding sentiment as the last round of the MasterCard Masters loomed was for the West Australian left hander, Nick O’Hern.
Not that there was an anti-Allenby feeling as such, but those who know O’Hern, and perhaps even those who don’t, knew that this was a great opportunity for him to break the perception that he is a perennial placegetter but not a winner.
O’Hern will take a three shot lead over Allenby into today’s final round at Huntingdale with a further shot back to Bubba Watson, another back to John Senden and then two further back is a man who may yet still figure in the finish, Stuart Appleby.
O’Hern is a fine ambassador for the game. His methodical approach to his craft and the articulate and considered manner in which he handles himself in press conferences has made him a favourite with both golf fans and the golf media.
O’Hern is indeed a craftsman. Some would say his strategic approach to the game bordered on the boring but there is little doubt that the golf fans can learn a lot more on how to improve their own game by observing O’Hern than by watching the bevy of power hitters that tend to dominate the game.
“I work with what I have rather than trying to be something else,” said O’Hern early in the week. “I love being able to plot my way up a par five while a more powerful player might rip it close to or on the green in two.”
There was no better example of this than in yesterday’s third round when, at the par five tenth hole, O’Hern avoided the temptation of going with driver and hit three wood from the tee.
“I knew I could still make it home with a fairway wood from there and by taking the three wood from the tee I took the fairway bunkers out of play.” O’Hern found the front edge of the green and two putted for birdie. Case closed.
O’Hern is here this week as the 28th ranked player in the world and as a member of this year’s Presidents Cup Team. These are accomplishments that tend to be overlooked when assessing O’Hern’s chances today. He is now a world class player but he needs the win to cap it off. His bank manger is I am sure not concerned as the cheques keep rolling in.
In his last three tournaments O’Hern has finished third in the HSBC Champions event in China, runner up at the Australian Open and third at last week’s Australian PGA Championship and has earned more than half a million Australian dollars. A win here however would have Nick O’Hern heading to a well earned Christmas break with not only an even healthier bank balance, but a contented state of mind knowing that the questions regarding winning will cease – at least in the meantime.
Conditions will be perfect for what promises to be an intriguing day in Australian golf as either Allenby creates history or O’Hern further reminds the golfing world just how good he is. We should not either dismiss the possibility of a challenge from further back.
Photo – Anthony Powter