Top amateurs debut as pros in Queensland Open
BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2002 Queensland Open | Preview | 30 Oct 2002
Two of Australia’s leading amateur golfers, Andrew Buckle and Adam Groom today turned professional and immediately earned sponsor invitations to the Queensland Open, starting tomorrow at Ipswich Golf Club. The pair had helped Australia to third place in the Eisenhower Cup in Malaysia last week and had been granted automatic entry into the Open as amateurs.
Buckle (Qld) and Groom (NSW) had privately told confidants they were serious about turning pro but the move was not confirmed until their manager met Queensland Golf Union executive officer, Tony Rollins, at Ipswich today. Both will hit off for the first time as professionals today in early morning groups off the 10th tee at Ipswich in the $100,000 Order of Merit tournament.
Last week’s Victorian Open winner, Andre Stolz opened his campaign for his first Queensland Open title with a solid hit out in today’s pro-am where individual scores were hidden in a four-ball ambrose. The field of 50 professionals who played in the pro-am unanimously agreed the player who putts best will probably win the championship on a course that has resisted the ravages of drought.
PGA Tour chairman Wayne Grady, who is in the field says the greens have been prepared to be as good as any in Queensland. “They are sensational and if you stay on the fairways there will be no problems,” Grady said.
“It’s going to be hard to be consistent because the balls are running a bit on the hard fairways but the scoring will still be good,” he predicted. West Australian veteran Wayne Smith, who led his pro-am team to victory in the afternoon session, said the course would not suit long hitters unless their short game was “spot on.”
“With the greens the way they are, it’s probably going to be putting that decides the outcome,” Smith said. Queenslander Scott Hend believes he is due for a top three finish, despite arriving home from the USA with a cold last weekend and failing to recover as he flies up and down the east coast honouring commitments. “I’m not feeling totally well at the moment but I really played well today,” Hend said.
“I hit it long and straight and I am confident if can go better than the fifth and sixth places I’ve had in my last two tournaments in Queensland.” But Hend is also wary of other Queenslanders in the field, such as former winners, Peter Senior, Jon Riley, Terry Price and Shane Tait.
“This is a typical Queensland golf course that they’ve been playing all their lives and they will revel in these conditions,” he said.
Senior, Stolz and West Australian Steve Collins have been grouped together for the first two days of the Open while Hend will be with Grady and David Podlich.
Crowd favourite Queenslander, Peter McWhinney, returning to major four day golf after a two year lay-off through injuries suffered in a car accident, played controlled golf as he tried to correct a hook he has developed off the tee.
McWhinney said he was still getting a fair distance with his drives but the hook was a worry he would have to work on if he is to be a force in the game.
Queensland Open Pro-am 4-ball ambrose:
(morning field) – Neil Kerry (NSW) B McNamara, S Nicholls, T Reynolds nett 37 (ocb); Wayne Rostron ((Qld) C Smith, S Gower, B Nicholson 37ocb
(afternoon field) – Wayne Smith (WA), J Fields, B Dwyer, J Swift, nett 33; Tony Carolan (Qld), B Madill, R Forbes, M McMillan 37