SYDNEY’S Noel Ratcliffe has taken the Polygiene Australian PGA Seniors Championship crown, finishing with a six stroke victory at Byron Bay Golf Club.
The experienced touring professional pulled away from the field and finished the 54 hole tournament at four under-par.
Under tough conditions Ratcliff’s even-par final round was the equal best of the day as the Byron Bay course firmed under strong westerly winds. Ratcliffe played controlled golf in the trying conditions with rounds of 70, 70 and 72 to be the only player in the field to finish under par.
When Ratcliffe pitched to within inches of the cup on the sixteenth, the lead stretched to five strokes and those still hoping to mount a challenge were left in his wake.
Ratcliffe ended the tournament with two regulation pars claiming his second Australian PGA Seniors title. His first win was in 2001.
Ratcliffe is a very experienced campaigner and his many wins include a number of titles on the European Seniors Tour.
Defending PGA Seniors Champion David Merriman equaled Ratcliff’s final round 72 to finish tied second with John Clifford (78), Terry Gale (75) and Stuart Reese (75).
Japanese Touring professional Hiroshi Fujita capped off a successful week finishing tied 10th at eight over-par.
Ratcliffe will take home $14,400 of the $80,000 purse on offer at the championship.
NEW South Welshman John Clifford has produced the low round of the day and now shares the tournament lead after the second round of the Polygiene Australian PGA Seniors Championship at Byron Bay Golf Club.
In blustery conditions, Clifford shot a four-under-par round of 68 and sits level with Noel Ratcliffe and Garth Domigan on a 36 hole total of four-under.
Clifford, the 2003 Australian Seniors Champion, played consistent and near flawless golf to climb up the leaderboard with a bogey free round. Ratcliffe had the putter on song, recording five birdies on his back nine to finish with a two-under-par 70.
Round one leader Terry Gale lost ground as the putts failed to drop on day two finishing with a four over par round of 76. He is tied for fourth with a one-over-par total.
Tournament favourite and defending champion David Merriman is still in contention, six strokes back at two-over-par and in a tie for ninth position.
Executive Officer of the NSW/ACT Division of the PGA of Australia Melville Proud has praised the tournament.
“It has been an excellent week. The planning by Mark Wilson (Tournament Director and Captain Byron Bay Golf Club) and the club has really made the tournament a success. A lot of the big names are in contention so it should be an exciting finish.”
The final round of the Championship concludes on Sunday with the final group of Clifford, Ratcliffe and Domigan teeing off at 11:30am.
WEST Australian Terry Gale holds a one stroke lead after the first round of the Polygiene Australian PGA Seniors Championship at Byron Bay Golf Club.
Gale finished with a five-under 67 to sit one shot clear of New Zealander Garth Domigan.
Gale, the two-time Australian PGA Senior Champion (1996 & 2006) made seven birdies and two bogeys in a round highlighted by putting.
“I played some nice iron shots and putted well, every time I hit it close I made it. When you’re holing putts, you confidence lifts and all of a sudden the game is not that hard,” Gale said.
“The course is in great condition and requires a strategic approach. I went for some shots today and it paid off, I wanted to get out of the blocks quickly,” he said.
New Zealander Garth Domigan sits in second place, however he held the lead for most of the day before failing to finish off his round dropping three shots in the last two holes.
After a steady start, Domigan made the turn at one-under par before reeling off an impressive stretch of six birdies in seven holes and taking him to seven-under-par through 16 holes.
An errant shot at the par three seventeenth, followed by a drive into the water hazard on eighteen saw him surrender the lead to Gale and finish his round at four-under-par.
Defending champion David Merriman opened with a disappointing four-over-par 76 while tournament drawcard Rodger Davis opened with a respectable two-under, 70.
The 2008 Polygiene Australian PGA Seniors Championship is underway at the Byron Bay Golf Club in northern NSW with an in form David Merriman a hot favourite to defend his title.
Merriman, who was a stellar performer on the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit this year with earnings of more than $200,000 for 22nd place, will face stiff competition from Rodger Davis, Mike Ferguson and Terry Gale.
The $80,000 PGA Seniors Championship is being played over 54 holes on the tough and windy Byron Bay course which is in perfect condition despite recent storms in the area.
“The course is in great shape, the recent works and re-designs have really lifted the profile of the course. It should be a great week and hopefully we can get some crowds for the weekend” said Tournament Director and Captain of Byron Bay Golf Club Mark Wilson.
Seventy-three senior (50+) PGA Professionals teed up for the first round of the championship on Friday and were joined by a lucky group of amateurs who will be able to rub shoulders, swap jokes and go shot for shot with some of Australia’s finest golfers.
The championship runs s from 11-14 December.
(Original source material courtesy PGA Australia)