GOLF: Runner-up Ashley Hall is among a trio of Australian Open finalists who will play the Headland ProAm on Sunday, the first for the club in eight years.
Hall shot a final round six-under at Royal Sydney Golf Club last Sunday to finish at 12-under par and was clubhouse leader until the score was equalled firstly by Cameron Smith and then US superstar, Jordan Spieth. The trio was forced into a play-off, which Spieth won with a birdie on the first hole.
"This is an outstanding boost to our event,” said an ecstatic Adam Norlander, Headland's club professional.
"When Ash did so well in Sydney, my first reaction was that he would withdraw from our tournament and prepare for the Australian PGA on the Gold Coast the weekend after next. But it shows what kind of a bloke he is that he will honour his commitment to play here.”
The Headland ProAm, which has been dormant for almost a decade, has attracted an impressive list of game-hardened professionals as well as a host of aspiring locals.
Teeing off from 10am on Sunday with a shotgun start, the field includes experienced hands Peter Zidar, Darren Rix, Matt Rogers and Michael Wright, while the younger brigade will be headed by locals Dane McArdle, Brad McLellan, Mitch Jacobson and Tim Butterworth.
And among the amateurs will be recent Keperra Bowl winner and Queensland State team member, Charlie Dann, as well as former Wallaby halfback Brett Johnstone.
Dann, who is currently playing in the Dunes Medal in Melbourne, won his first national ranking event at the Mandurah Amateur in Perth in September.
BUT the most highly-credentialed player in the field will be Hall, who adds the Open runner-up finish to his Victorian PGA Championship victory back in February. Hall, who has spent the past three years playing the Web.com Tour where he has been a two-time runner-up, also qualified for the 2017 British Open by virtue of his second placing at Royal Sydney.
Another well-known golfing name in the field is Brett Rankin, who holds the Headland course record after shooting 63 in the ProAm in 2010. Rankin finished 20th in Sydney last Sunday at five under, following recent good form overseas with an 11th and two 12th placings in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand respectively.
An added drawcard is fellow Queenslander Ryan Haller, 51st in the Australian Open, who also had a strong showing in the recent NSW Open where he finished 20th at 14 under.
Two female professionals will also be in the field - Gympie-born Gold Coaster Ali Orchard and Jade Fisher, from Jindalee.
Orchard's partner, Victorian Deyen Lawson, is also playing. Lawson has had three top 10 finishes in his past seven tournaments and was the first-round leader of the recent Isuzu Queensland Open, eventually finishing 18th.
Norlander said he was excited to have a ProAm back at the course which was currently in excellent condition and would be a tough test for even the best in the field.
"Attracting sponsors is never easy and we are very fortunate to have Vantage Homes Queensland and Alex Surf Club come on board as our naming rights sponsors,” he said.
"We have just on 40 professionals entered, with a good sprinkling of youth and experience. And, as an added attraction, quite a few of the players are Sunshine Coast locals.
"But while the quality of the talent is high, I wouldn't be surprised if our course is the overall winner. History tells us that when Headland hosts a big tournament few players better par.”
IN more good news for Coast golf, Olympian Marcus Fraser is expected to appear the Holden Scramble final at Twin Waters, starting Saturday.
Fraser will play the par-3 17th hole with all 15 groups in the final round of competition on Monday.
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