The Goulburn Valley’s richest golf tournament is being staged during the next two days.
The $25000 Numurkah-Mooroopna Pro-Am continues to grow in stature each year and takes in two of our region’s premier courses.
‘‘The initiative to combine the two events was a huge success,’’ PGA tournament co-ordinator Cameron Davies said.
‘‘With the support of the Greater Shepparton City Council, it is now one of the premier events on our calendar.’’
Numurkah Golf Club is the scene for today’s first round before the tournament moves on to Mooroopna tomorrow for the final 18 holes.
A new name will adorn the Greater Shepparton trophy with Chris Gaunt unable to defend his title due to playing commitments at the Australian PGA on the Gold Coast.
Gaunt has built a wonderful affinity with Numurkah, having won at the course on three occasions, so his absence opens the door for a new face to claim the lion’s share of the prize money.
A field of 55 professionals will line up in this year’s edition of the pro-am, headed by Queenslander Damien Jordan.
Jordan holds sway at the top of the PGA Tour of Australia Pro-Am Series order of merit, having won prize money north of $46000 for the season and is rated one of the leading contenders in this event.
Success would virtually seal the prized honour for him.
Jordan’s nearest rival, although more than $10000 in prize money adrift, is Bendigo golfer Andrew Martin.
Martin, 32, has been in the professional ranks for more than a decade and finished runner-up in the 2012 New Zealand PGA.
Other notable players to look out for include John Wade, Euan Walters and Brad Lamb.
Walters is a former US PGA Tour player plying his trade on the local scene, while Lamb boasts major experience.
The Wangaratta golfer achieved one of his career highlights in 2008 when he qualified for the British Open, but missed the cut after rounds of 85 and 74.
This tournament is also a rare chance for the region’s club-based professionals to compete against their contemporaries.
Numurkah’s Anthony Sanders, Mooroopna’s Ashley Blake and Shepparton duo Darren Rodgers and Mitch McComas, who doubles as The News’ golf doctor each Wednesday, are also competing in the tournament.
Rodney Booth, the club professional at Tocumwal, could be a man to watch, especially at Numurkah, the course where he learnt his trade.
More than 80 amateur golfers are taking the rare opportunity to rub shoulders with the pros at both clubs.
The early groups tee off with a shotgun start at 7.30am, with the afternoon groups timed to start at 12.30pm.
DAY ONE GROUPINGS AT NUMURKAH
Troy Alsford, Aaron Attwell, Adrian Barandowski.
Rodney Booth, James Carter, Ashley Blake.
Vernon Gunson, Daniel Griffin, Lloyd White.
David Hurle, Timothy Hewitt, Brent Westwick.
Peter McKay, Brad Kivimets, Garth Cusick.
Edward Nicolette, Michael Paterson, Tom McLaine.
Josh Shaw, Harley Williams, Luke Bleumink.
Daniel Smith, John Wade, Raffael Toperoso.
Scott Wearne, Bryan Wearne.
R.J. Caracella, Zakary Ginevra, Christopher Wood.
Alex Edge, Troy Cox, Luke Hickman.
Christopher Thorn, Joshua Ingram, Andrew Martin.
Adam Burdett, Ben Ford, Euan Walters.
Luke Farry, Zac Morwood, Ryan Haywood.
Josh Cabban, Mathew Perry, Wade Lowrie.
Robert Emond, Michael Isherwood, Damien Jordan.
Tony Collier, Sam Daley, Brad Lamb.
Anthony Sanders, John Thalassinos, Mitchell McComas.
WHO IS IN THE MIX
News sports editor Gregor Mactaggart runs the rule over some of the key contenders for the Numurkah-Mooroopna Pro-Am.
The Queenslander leads the PGA Pro-Am Series order of merit and would all but seal the title with success in the Goulburn Valley. The former soldier has swapped his M16 for a golf club and has impressed on the fully-fledged tour of Australasia, finishing fifth in this year’s Papua New Guinea Open and landing a lucrative top 40 finish in the Fiji International.
Lamb played in the 2008 British Open and has experience in America. Despite playing a limited schedule of events, the Victorian is a top quality player on his day and renowned as a fine iron play.
The Bendigo golfer is striving to make ground on Jordan in the race for the national Pro-Am Series order of merit. Martin has played four PGA Tour of Australasia events this year, making just the one cut. His best form has been in the shorter pro-ams of which he has featured in 50 during the season so far.
He may be at that point of his career where the veteran tag is applied, but Walters remains as competitive as ever on the pro-am circuit. It takes a fine golfer to play on the US PGA Tour, where Walters featured in 18 events in 2005 following a breakout season on the Nationwide Tour, where he won the Jacob’s Creek Open. Also has wins in the NSW and WA PGA on his resume.
Burdett comes to Numurkah in a great frame of mind generated by a fine showing in the recent Australian Open at Royal Sydney. The Yarrawonga-Mulwala trainee professional attracted headlines after firing an opening round 68, before finishing the tournament with rounds of 72, 78 and 76 to finish in 66th place. Fired 59 around his home track not that long ago, so one of the major contenders here.
A Numurkah boy who can call on years of local knowledge, especially on the opening day. Based at Tocumwal and will relish the chance to shine here.
Our resident golf doctor at The News, the Shepparton assistant professional will relish the chance to make his presence felt at this tournament.