Empty feeling for many at end of Australian PGA

BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2002 Australian PGA Championship | Wrap | 01 Dec 2002
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Click here for an interview with co-winner, Peter Lonard
Click here for an interview with co-winner, Jarrod Moseley

When Jarrod Moseley burst on to the professional scene four years ago it became immediately apparent that he was something quite special. He won the Australasian Tour School at Bribie Island in late 1998 and then just a few months later in January won the Heineken Classic at the Vines Resort. That leapfrogged him onto the European Tour and he then went on to finish in sixteenth on the Order of Merit that season. Quite a performance for a rookie who did not even have a card at the start of that year.

Since that stellar first season however things have not been quite that simple again. A period of increasing frustration plagued his game and that manifested itself in a form slump that saw him slip to 77th on the Volvo Order of Merit in 2000 and 71st in 2001. This year he finally snapped when, during the course of the French Open, he slammed his ball away with his putter in anger at the completion of a hole only for it to hit someone. It was at that point that he knew he needed some help in terms of his anger management and set about changing his attitude to things. He read several books and essentially made the decision to look at his golf from a very different angle. Gone would be the days of intensity on course and out would come a Jarrod Moseley who would begin to enjoy himself.

The results started coming again. He missed the next two cuts but before long the new look Moseley started to take effect. In the eighteen starts following the French Open he produced six top tens and the positive signs were obvious for all to see. The Volvo PGA at Wentworth was one of the first events where he really played well with the new attitude. He was sixth there and from that point on it all seemed like it would be full steam ahead.

Moseley has shown in the past that he has a liking for Queensland and it’s Bermuda greens. As indicated earlier he won the Tour School in 1998 and was a winner of a Queensland Amateur event several years ago.

On his return to Australia he started slowly at the Australian Open, then rounds of 67 and 67 to saw him finish in 26th place. Jarrod Moseley was close to his best and it was about to show. He took the lead early on day one here at the PGA Championship and when he had finished on 65 he had a lead that he would not let go but ultimately would share.

For Lonard it was the culmination of a brilliant year. He deserves to be the rookie of the year and with earnings of $US1,400,000, the only thing missing was a victory. I’m not yet sure he yet has it. Officially yes, morally no.

Lonard was however brilliant all week. His ball striking stats were of their normal great standard and he appears such a tough customer now following his year in the US. He has not been a prolific winner Lonard but he is now contending on a regular basis and the more you do that the more you knock on the door the greater chance of that door being opened.

Day three was completed on day four and so to the final round where Moseley held a five shot lead entering round four. He started with a rather nervous opening drive and was perhaps lucky that his tee shot was not in an even worse spot. Still a bogey was the best he could do and when his playing partner Baddeley birdied, both he and Peter Lonard were within four. But as quickly as Moseley had dropped a shot he was back with a birdie at the second. He bogied the par five fourth, but was back again with a birdie two at the sixth. And that’s where he stood when at 2.00pm; play was called for the second day in a row.

Norman was perhaps the hardest done by the delay as the momentum he had created early in his round, moving from ten under to fourteen under, had him within four of the lead, after starting eight behind going into the final round. This was something quite special from Norman who had not played with the continuity of late that most felt he needed to, in order to compete close to the elite level. Sure there had been the International Tournament in August where he had finished fourth but the nature of that event, modified stableford, allows perhaps less consistency than a regular four round strokeplay event would do. He is however, Greg Norman and that is often enough to not only get him close to the lead but to remind others that he is around also.

Play resumed at around 3.45 Moseley bogied the 11th and when Lonard birdied the par five twelfth, it was a tied ball game with both at seventeen under and clear of the rest. While Appleby, Norman and Baddeley were still not totally out of the equation they would need something quite remarkable and perhaps a little bit of help from those ahead on the leaderboard that is.

Lonard’s bogey at thirteen, when he went through the green with his second, looked like it may have been a telling blow for him but he birdied fifteen and when Moseley missed from inside the seven feet from where Lonard had holed it was square again. A missed green at sixteen was to cost Lonard a bogey when he failed to get up and down, missing an eight-foot par putt.

Seventeen appears harmless but it can be dangerous. Lonard was first away with his second and left his approach ten feet behind and right of the cup. Moseley, now one ahead, one followed and from twenty-five feet, was short so Lonard had the ten footer swinging right to lefter to draw level with one to play. The grain was always going to e a factor but it was running up the hill and to get the combination of grain going up hill and swing down the hill exactly right was a tough ask. He wasn’t up to it and they headed to the eighteenth with Moseley one ahead.

The eighteenth at the Hyatt Coolum is fraught with danger however and two or three-shot swings are not uncommon. And so it was this hole that would decide the result…. perhaps. It was left to Lonard and Moseley to tough out the last hole. Baddeley playing with them was but a bystander. He played it that way also taking a double bogey and so the stage was set for the dramatic and so it transpired. Moseley playing conservatively bunkered his tee shot and Lonard followed, his tee shot finding the left hand trough after flirting with the right hand bunker. Moseley played first and hit a very smart safe shot to the right half of the green and when Lonard’s second pulled up sixty feet short of the hole it appeared likely that the tournament had been decided. Lonard however had different ideas and he holed what will no doubt be his most memorable putt to then put the pressure back on Moseley. Moseley safely two putted and it was off the eighteenth tee once again.

Appleby was tied third with Norman fourth and for both it was a performance of some merit. Through eight holes on Thursday Appleby was five over. That he battled back with to eventually finish his round at two over despite suffering from a flu like speaks volumes for the man and that he then went on to produce rounds of 67,66 and 67 to finish was the sort of thing you would expect from the leading ranked player in the field. Not to mention that his final round effort won me the sweep amongst the media at the course. Totally unbiased reporting, of course.

Norman for a man that plays on a limited basis these days gave plenty and came up just short. He captured the imagination of those that turned up tom the Hyatt Coolum. His missed short putt at the last secured him fifth spot and it was another performance of merit.

And so to the playoff. The first hole (the 18th of the course) was halved and when it appeared that another hole was impossible due to the darkness the players were asked their thoughts and a decision was made to share the title.

For mine an ordinary decision as was the case in Spain three weeks ago. A hollow feeling has been left. Both Lonard and Moseley were happy with the decision and felt that to go out and play in the increasing darkness would have turned the affair into a gamble. To come back in the morning they said would have meant that only a few people would have witnessed the outcome. For mine I’m not sure that is all that relevant. This is after all the PGA Championship of Australia. That does not however detract from two very fine players who are deserved winners but there is an emptiness about joint champions.

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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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