Chances are that even if you have heard of Bob Tuohy, you would know the name for reasons other than his professional golf career. The Adelaide resident has been a fixture on the tournament scene in Australia for more than three decades as a promoter, a notable survivor in a vocation signified by its high attrition rate.
Tuohy’s present obscures a past that includes national representation as an amateur and numerous professional wins, both internationally and at home. Highly regarded as a competitor, his was a career that teetered on the edge of outright golfing fame at a time when only a select few could exist through tournament earnings alone.
A burgeoning awareness of Tuohy’s talent became enhanced by a scroll down the list of winners of the West Australian Open. B.Tuohy, 1960, stands out not merely because you least expect it, but because the surrounding names lend a validation to his achievement and the status of the championship that no subtext could better.
Legendary PGA member, Dan Cullen, won back to back pre war titles before heading off to fly bombers over Germany in World War II. The great Kel Nagle scored a trifecta of victories from ’50-’52. Gary Player, a future nine time major champion, raised the trophy in ’56. In subsequent years names like Peter Jacobsen, Graham Marsh and Terry Gale used the tournament as a springboard for successful professional careers.
The roll call of winners in latter years also confirms the prestige that the event continued to hold through the decades. Ian Baker Finch was the champion in 1984, the same year he led The Open Championship into the final round. A marauding Greg Norman made the journey west and triumphed during the watershed summer of 1986, followed impressively by Brad Hughes in 1988 as the future two time Australian Masters champion kicked off his professional career with a bang.
Then there are the names that hold a resonance for differing reasons, like Brad King, winner in both 1996 and 1999. King’s name has been missing from the sport for some years, but many will recall a prodigious talent whose powerful driving was at once both flying cape and kryptonite to the native West Australian. That he failed to forge a substantial career will remain one of the great mysteries of the game for those who competed against him.
Home state heroes, Kim Felton and Stephen Leaney, share eight titles between them. Brett Rumford and James Nitties also appear on the honour roll, ensuring that the list of quality champions continues in the modern era. The West Australian Open may suffer from the tyranny of distance for some, but its history of victors and siren like ability to attract and foster stars of the future ensures that its legacy as one of this country’s most enduring and prestigious championships remains intact.
A former Tour player, Grant Dodd is a renowned golf commentator for Network TEN in Australia, and ESPN Star for OneAsia. A columnist for Australian Golf Digest, he is also a wine lover and father of two.
Originally published in the Tour Insider – Sign up now for weekly insights and behind the scenes content from the PGA Tour of Australasia events.