Chris Downes signals what lies ahead with NSW PGA win
BY Bruce Young | Von Nida Tour | 2003 New South Wales PGA Championship | Wrap | 17 Mar 2003
In recent months I have often trumpeted the cause of the young Queenslander Chris Downes. I first became aware of him via the thoughts of Norman Von Nida, who had seen him as a youngster at the Redcliffe Golf Club and had been suitably impressed by a young man with game and attitude. I say that in the nicest possible way, as what I have seen of him in a competitive situation at events like the Australian Open, the New Zealand Open and the recent Clearwater Classic, there is much to like about the way Chris Downes goes about his business.
Downes backed himself early in his career when he left for the US and qualified for the US Amateur in 2000 at Springfield in New Jersey and made it through to the second round after doing a great job just to make the match play field.
He went to the US again last year to qualify for a position on the USPGA Tour but failed to get through his first stage venue in Florida but one felt that it was only a matter of time before Downes acheives him dream of a US Tour card. On his return to Australia he played well at the Australian Open, leading on day one before a late burst by Charles Howell III pulled him back to the field. A 71 on day two saw him slip behind but a last round 67 saw him in 11th place when the cheques were handed out. His next big effort was at the New Zealand Open where he led into round four only to be caught by Mahal Pearce and as an on-course commentator, it was clear to me that he learnt alot from his mistakes that day.
Then two weeks ago in Christchurch he finished sixth at the Clearwater Classic, which catapulted him to 12th on the Australasian Tour money list and clearly showed what was to come.
On Sunday night in a bar in Christchurch after the Clearwater event, Chris talked about his desire to take advantage of his good finish in Christchurch by heading to Louisiana in late March where he is guaranteed, by virtue of his top ten in Christchurch, another start on the Nationwide Tour.
One gets the feeling that Chris Downes may not have started golf with a silver spoon in his mouth but may well finish with one. I like his game and his attitude and that he won by so many at the New South Wales PGA this past week comes as no surprise to not only me, but the many fans and admirers he has out there.
Matthew Ecob also makes progress and he finished second albeit eight shots behind Downes. He is another who backs himself by taking on the Nationwide Tour when and where he gets a chance.
Those tied in third place included Anthony Gilligan, who has only a limited status on the Japanese Tour and Elliott Boult, the New Zealander who has lost his status on the European Tour.
The Von Nida Tour is a fine tribute to a great man and provides opportunities for players to get their game back on track before tackling the main Australasian Tour. The top 10 players on the Von Nida Tour money list at the end of 2003 will gain full exemption for the 2004 Australasian PGA Tour.
The next stop on the Von Nida Tour is in New South Wales again when the Toyota Southern Classic gets under way in Sydney at the Woolooware Golf Club.