Scott Draper is a former tennis grand slam winner and professional golfer. Picture: John Gass
Scott Draper is a former tennis grand slam winner and professional golfer. Picture: John Gass

All round champ to take on region’s best amateurs

Scott Draper, a late entry in this weekend's Sunshine Coast Open Amateur Championship at Headland, is one of those rare athletes to have reached the top in two different sports.

Best known as a tennis player, Draper reached a world ranking of 42 in 1998, after winning the Queen's Club tournament, a traditional lead-up to Wimbledon.

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He was Wimbledon junior champion in 1992 and reached the fourth round of the French Open in 1995 and 1996, and the fourth round of the US Open in 1997.

He's also played golf at the highest of levels.

Draper turned professional early in 2005 and his first tournament was the Victorian Open, a 54-hole event scheduled to begin on Friday, January 28.

Draper, however, had promised his friend Samantha Stosur that he'd partner her in the Australian Open mixed doubles, and the pair worked their way through the preliminaries to reach the semi-final, also scheduled for Friday, January 28.

So, on that eventful day, Draper played his first round of professional golf at Woodlands in the morning, then drove to Melbourne Park, where he and Stosur beat Spain's Conchita Martinez and Israel's Andy Ram 7-5, 6-3 in the mixed doubles semi-final.

Scott Draper during 1997 US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York. Picture: Tennis A/CT
Scott Draper during 1997 US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York. Picture: Tennis A/CT

Fortunately, perhaps, Draper missed the cut at the Victorian Open which meant he was free to compete in the final of the mixed doubles on the Sunday.

Playing brilliantly, the pair took the title, beating the African pair of Liezel Huber and Kevin Ullyett in three sets, taking the tie-breaker 10-6.

Later that year Draper finished eighth in the South Australian PGA and two weeks later competed at Roland Garros in the French Open tennis championship.

In 2007 Draper, who plays tennis left-handed and golf right-handed, won the NSW PGA Championship, shooting 20-under-par to beat Sunshine Coaster Andrew Bonhomme by a stroke.

Draper played as a professional golfer until 2008 when a back injury ended his career.

As soon as he was eligible, Draper returned to amateur ranks, and now plays off a handicap of plus four at Keperra.

He'll be joined in the weekend's elite field by his brother Mark, another uniquely gifted sportsman, who also played tennis professionally and now owns a golf handicap of plus two.

The Sunshine Coast Open Amateur Championship will be played at Headland on Saturday and Sunday and has attracted a capacity field of 208, 20 of whom have handicaps of scratch or less.

 

Noosa Springs team just too good

A team of women from Noosa Springs upstaged the locals to take Friday's Rose Bowl, one of Maroochy River's marquee events.

Rosemary Randall (36 points), Tracey Carter (36), Dianne Hudson (33) and Chrissy Hordern (37) played consistently well on the soggy course to win the four-ball aggregate stableford event by seven strokes.

In the single stableford competition, which was run in conjunction with the Rose Bowl, the visitors again dominated.

Alison McCracken, a 16-handicapper from Wantima, won the A grade division with 41 points, while Caloundra's Heather Busch (39 points) was the B grade winner.

 

Why people are playing more golf

Maroochy River, with a waiting list of nearly 100 people seeking seven-day membership, is one of several Sunshine Coast golf clubs feeling the pressure of an unprecedented boom in golf throughout the country.

Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland said golf had benefited from the pandemic, with round numbers up, golf club membership on the rise, and retailers unable to keep up with the demand.

''Young men are playing the game up in droves, and we are seeing pleasing increases in young women taking up the game.''

Golf participation rates rose to 995,000 in 2019-2020, according to an AusPlay survey.

That puts golf ahead of tennis, surfing and netball among Australia's 15 top activities, but behind yoga (1.36 million) and soccer (1.1 million). The top activity among adults in the year to June 2020 was walking (9.54 million).

''COVID-19 has reminded people about the value of being outdoors and having fun,'' Mr Sutherland said.

''It's up to us now to make sure that golf remains a game for people of all ages, not necessarily just at golf courses, but at driving ranges, mini golf and golf simulators. They are all forms of the game.''

 

Juniors head for Tin Can Bay

It's a bit of a trek, perhaps, but the value provided by the entry fee alone would surely make the trip to Tin Can Bay worthwhile.

It costs just $15 to play in the Tin Can Bay Junior Carnival on Sunday, April 11.

That price include 18 holes of golf, a chance to qualify for some upcoming important Invincibles Tour events, and a barbecue lunch.

There are also three, six and nine-hole competitions, providing options for all levels of golfer - from absolute beginner to the elite star.

Email Janet at vajreibel@ozemail.com.au to register.

 

Pro golfer Charlie Dann. Picture: Patrick Woods
Pro golfer Charlie Dann. Picture: Patrick Woods

Coast trio finds going tough

The standard of play was so high in last weekend's NSW Open that, despite shooting two-under-par, Charlie Dann could finish no higher than tied 59th.

Dann, the best of the Sunshine Coast trio who competed in the $400,000 event, had rounds of 71, 69, 71 and 71 - 16 strokes behind the winner, Gold Coast-based Bryden McPherson.

The other Coast representatives - Shae Wools-Cobb (71, 71) and veteran Glenn Joyner (70, 74) - failed to make the 36-hole cut.

Young guns Jack Thompson and Queenslander Elvis Smylie, who turned professional only a few weeks ago, tied for second, collecting $33,900 each in prizemoney.

 

Good news just keeps getting better

The good news was that John Sims had just about the best possible playing partners when he suffered a dizzy spell and almost fainted on his second-last hole at Headland on Saturday.

Playing in his group was Dr Daniel Lane and paramedic David O'Mahoney, who advised John to stop playing and go to the clubhouse, from where an ambulance took him to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

The even better news was that, after spending six hours undergoing tests, John, a retired school teacher, was given the all clear, medical staff convinced the combination of heat, humidity and dehydration was the cause of his dizzy spell.

And the best news of all was that John's outstanding play on the 17 holes he completed - including three four-point birdies - was good enough for him and partner, Dr Lane, to win the 4BBB event with 47 points.

The club also conducted a single stableford competition for men and women, and John's 38 points earned him third prizemoney in that event.

 

Hot competition on Sundays at Noosa Springs

Visitor Kye Chapple played consistent golf to score 37 stableford points and win Noosa Springs' Sunday Series event at the weekend.

But his score won't be good enough to qualify him for the final of the Universal Property-sponsored event - the final being restricted to those who shoot the best score for each calendar month.

That honour will go to Noosa Springs member Raffi Sekzenian, who scored 41 points on Sunday, March 7, then followed that great score with a repeat performance the following Sunday.

The male and female winners of the final earn a holiday at Noosa Springs, complete with free unlimited golf.

The Sunday Series is played each weekend, and visitors are welcome to compete.

If they live anywhere on the Sunshine Coast or Gympie they get to play for just $79.


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