Schmidt snatches victory at QLD Open
BY iseekgolf.com | Von Nida Tour | 2006 Queensland Open | General | 29 Oct 2006
The Roadcon Group Queensland Open Golf Championship was won today by the 34-year-old New South Wales golfer, Ricky Schmidt, when he outlasted Queenslander, Brad Kennedy, and the long time leader in the tournament, Tristan Lambert also from NSW, to win with a birdie at the second extra hole.
Lambert had been eliminated at the first extra hole after his approach finished just through the green and he was too firm with his chip. His putt from six feet looked good but lipped out and so there were just two as they headed back to the 18th tee once again.
“I have been playing really well for the past three months since I started working with Andre Stolz,” said Schmidt just a few minutes after taking the title. “I played well over the last couple of weeks and this week I stayed really patient and just tried to stay in my own bubble, especially today.”
Kennedy had made Schmidt’s task a little easier by three putting for bogey but it mattered little to Schmidt. "It would have been nice to have won it with a birdie and I wouldn’t wish anything bad on Brad as he had played an exceptional last round but it was nice to know I could dribble it to the hole from three feet." He needn’t have worried as he made it anyway and the title was his.
The Stolz to whom refers is none other than USPGA Tour winner, Andre Stolz, who has quit the tour and is now based on the Central Coast of New South Wales putting his undoubted golfing knowledge and coaching skills to good use at his driving range at Bateau Bay.
“Andre started looking after me just few weeks ago and his help and my own hard work are starting to pay dividends. This is just my second four round event win. I won the National Trainees Championship when I was a first year Trainee so this is pretty special.”
A final round of 69 saw Schmidt finish at 14 under and at that stage he had joined Kennedy and Lambert in the lead but back on the 72nd tee, Lambert still had a chance to birdie the short par four last after a bogey at the par three 17th had taken him out of the lead he had held since Friday afternoon.
Lambert had led for much of the week after his second round of 67 had taken him one shot clear of tearaway first round leader, Luke Hickmott. Lambert birdied two holes early after a five foot putt at the 3rd and all but holing his second from under the trees at the 4th. He was then at 17 under and three clear of local amateur, Paul Donahoo. Lambert dropped a shot at the 5th after an errant tee shot proved costly and then again at the 7th after three putting from the front of the green. It would not be until the 12th before another birdie came his way after a brilliant three wood which he later described as the best shot of the day finished five metres from the hole. He two putted for birdie and was back at 16 under.
Playing nearly 90 minutes ahead however, Gold Coast golfer, Brad Kennedy, who is a player good enough to have finished third behind Adam Scot and Ernie Els in Singapore this year, was putting together an amazing stretch and after six consecutive birdies on the front nine he had turned in 30 and was at 11 under. He added others at the 13th and 14th and was, all of a sudden, becoming a serious threat to those well behind on the golf course. Kennedy added another birdie at the 15th after holing from 7 feet and he had moved to 14 under. With the breeze strengthening and significance of a win for those behind, he stood a real chance to post a score and await the outcome.
Schmidt on the other hand was just going along quietly making the turn in two under and getting to 13 under at that point. A birdie at the 10th and he was in the mix and when he birdied the 15th he had moved to 15 under. In the group behind, Lambert was struggling at the 15th and after taking two in the bunker, the resultant bogey saw him slip back to lose the outright lead for the first time since Friday morning.
Schmidt found the bunker with his second at the 16th and dropped a shot and Lambert had a one shot lead again but at the 17th he hit an awful tee shot and they were again tied along with clubhouse leader, Kennedy. As Lambert was in the process of missing his par save there, Schmidt missed a fifteen footer which may well have been the decider at the last and so Lambert had one last chance to seal it before a playoff with a very makeable birdie a chance at the last. He was unable to do so and the three players headed back to the 18th to start again.
For Lambert there were mixed emotions. “Yes I am definitely disappointed,” he said. “It would have been nice to win but that’s the way it goes. Still to have stayed is touch as I did in my first pro event is something to take out if it. I thought I was playing well enough but I made a couple of soft bogeys coming in. I felt comfortable enough but I guess it may get easier to handle. It has been a week however that I will never forget.”
All three players will be at the Greater Building Society’s Queensland PGA Championship next week on the Gold Coast before both Schmidt and Lambert play the New South Wales Open and Kennedy heads to stage two of the USPGA Tour School.
Sharing fourth place were the local amateurs Justin Maker and Paul Donahoo. Early in the day it appeared that it may well be Donahoo who would be the one to challenge Lambert and he stayed in touch throughout to finish just one behind. Justin Maker followed up a very good and similar finish in Townsville and continues to make significant progress.