GREG RHODES can probably be forgiven for tightening up a little as victory loomed in his debut Australian Men’s Senior Amateur Championship at the Manly Golf Club on Thursday.
Going into the third and final round at 4-under with a three stroke lead it should have been easy meat for the talented regional Victorian golfer but that doesn’t count for the pressure of competing for your first national senior title.
Some earlier missed putts and an uncharacteristic wayward drive on the ninth that led to a double bogie saw the Coomealla Golf Club member make the turn at four over for the round and his lead was rapidly evaporating.
“Not good,” Rhodes said as he exited the 9th green.
The chasers were looking more and more threatening with the chief among them Sydney’s Mark Pearson from the nearby Mona Vale Golf Club.
Pearson was playing aggressive golf on a lovely revamped Manly layout that includes lots of water and bush and doesn’t always reward that type of attitude.
With the wind behind him on the par four 328 metre 18th and knowing scores were tight Pearson took out the driver and had a shot at the green, which he’d narrowly missed the previous day.
An unhelpful bounce cruelled that intention and the Sydney-sider had to settle for par.
Those following with the final group thought that left Rhodes with just a one stroke lead and when he pulled an iron left from the tee and bought a large tree branch obscuring the green into play things were looking dicey.
A low punch shot ended in a greenside bunker and though he failed to get up and down the bogey was actually enough for a one stroke victory and the biggest win of a very long golfing career.
After his opening rounds of 69-69 Rhodes had finished with a 79 and 4-over for the tournament, one in front of Pearson (73) with Perth’s Trevor Hughes (78) a further shot back.
Penrith’s David Limbach (71) finished T4 along with defending champion Gordon Claney (78), also a Victorian, at 8-over.
Three time champion Stefan Albinski had the round of the day with his 70 the only one in red figures on a day when wind became an increasing factor.
Albinski finished tied for sixth at 9-over along with Steve Toyne (75), Ian Frost (76) and Peter Hannah (79).
The Victorians (Rhodes, Claney, Frost and Guy Krall also won the four man interstate teams event with Western Australia runner-up.
Next year’s championship will be held at Kooyonga in Adelaide from October 11-13.
# We’ll be publishing a profile piece on Greg Rhodes shortly
# Also check out our Photo Gallery from the championship now updated following the final round and trophy presentation.2015 Men’s Senior Amateur Championship Photo Gallery