Not often a hole-in-one is the second best highlight of the day, but today Ryan Lynch’s ace was over shadowed by a dominate 8-under Par 64 from Michael Choi.
The cool and blustery conditions continued as the Ladbrokes PGA Pro-Am series moved to Cohuna for the 12th annual Stuart Appleby Cohuna Pro-Am.
The course which has been carved out of a river red gum forest has some of the narrowest fairways in golf and always provides a good test for amateurs and Professionals alike.
It was a case of the young and the old during the morning’s play. It was Corowa’s 3rd year PGA Trainee Professional Levi Burns with the early lead after a front-9 that featured four birdies and three bogeys to card a 1-under 71.
Pro-Am veteran Tony Collier, a regular on the circuit who went one better after a back-9 34 he signed for a clubhouse lead of 2-under 70.
The breeze eased slightly for the afternoon players and the scores reflected the easy conditions. Dual course record holder Kris Mueck was the first to better Collier’s mark with a 3-under 69. Josh Younger, Jack Wilson and Adam Burdett all went one better than that with 4-under 68’s.
Andrew Schonewille had an extra reason to celebrate his birthday when he took the lead with a 5-under 67. Lynch and 2016 Victorian PGA Pro-Am Player of Year Andrew Martin soon went lower both signing for 6-under 66. Martin must have thought he’d done enough to win his second Stuart Appleby Cohuna Pro-Am’s in three years and Lynch looked to add a win to his ace on the 2nd.
However it was Michael Choi who spoiled their party with a round that featured seven birdies and an eagle. Choi started with two regulation par’s before he got hot, really hot.
On the remaining seven holes of the front-9 Choi made five birdies and an eagle to get to the turn in just 29.
“I rolled in a putt for birdie on the 3rd and one for eagle on the 5th. I was then just trying to make Par’s into the turn but the putts just kept dropping,” Choi said.
A further birdie on the 13th saw Choi move to 8-under when he admits the nerves set in a little, “I just tried to hang on from there and make sure more pars.”
Choi then extended his lead even further with a birdie on the 16th but it was a bogey on the next that halted his run to set a new course record.
“I made a bogey on the 17th when I missed the small green but managed to hang on for par down the 18th.
“The greens here are in great condition, they’re small and with plenty of drop offs but the putting surfaces are first class.”
It wasn’t just Choi singing the praises of the course that is maintained by just one full time ground staff and what the club refers to as the “Dad’s Army” group of volunteers. Euan Walters, who once held a U.S. Tour card commenting that “These greens are phenomenal, the best I have ever seen them and some of the best we play on.”
U.S. Tour Professional and local boy Stuart Appleby is still a major supporter of the club where he first learned to play and it was great to have his father Malcolm on hand to present Choi with the trophy after winning the Pro-Am named in his son’s honour.
The Ladbrokes PGA Pro-Am series tomorrow move up the road to cluBarham for the Friday Fourball before the action heats up with the 61st Border Open over the weekend.
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