A sensational 5-under in five holes has secured Shane Butler his maiden win on the Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series.
Despite the extremely heavy rain overnight the course presented in near perfect condition for the annual Eastwood Pro-Am. Nestled in the shadows of Mt Dandenong the Eastwood Golf Club is naturally a hilly course with tight tree lined fairways and plenty of water.
PGA Trainee Graduate Kevin Smith was the first out of the block. Having not played an event for some time and with a brand new set of clubs, Smith surprise many and not the least himself with a 2-under 70 in the perfect conditions.
However it was Eastwood’s Head Professional Luke Bower who surprised the locals when he joined Smith at 2-under. Arriving at work early to help prepare the event and get the course ready for play, Bower navigated his way around his home course with five birdies. It was the three bogeys mid way through his round that proved costly, leaving him tied with Smith for the morning lead.
The afternoon field featured 2016 winner Andrew Martin and Alex Edge who currently sits second on the Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series 2018 Order of Merit. However it was another PGA Trainee Graduate, Hayden Webb who took up the early running in pursuit of the morning leaders. He got his round to 4-under through his first eight hole before giving one back with a bogey 5 on the Par 4 6th and another on the Par 3 8th. Webb managed one further birdie on 12th and had to settle for a round of 3-under 69. Webb was soon joined by Kris Mueck who round featured six birdies and three costly bogeys.
The lead was soon handed over to young Yarrawonga based PGA Trainee Professional Frazer Droop who despite injuring his back just three holes into the day battled on to record a round of 4-under 68. With just six holes to play Droop was 1-over the card and a long way from the lead. He then put on a display of five straight birdies to move to 4-under the card. He managed only a regulation par on the 15th, his last hole and was now in the lead, one shot clear of Webb and Mueck.
Huntingdale’s Michael Choi was the next to challenge, he began his round on the 16th hole with a birdie but handed it straight back on 17 with a bogey. His round fluctuated from there with birdies on 18, 5 and 7 but a bogey on the 3rd left him 2-under with just six holes to play. Back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12 saw him jump back into a share of the lead with Droop with three holes to play. He could only manage to close out his round with pars and he eventually signed for a 68 and a share of the lead.
Eastwood local and crowd favourite Shane Butler began his round on the 15th hole not expecting too much after suffering a slight neck strain earlier in the week. After tweaking his neck again on his first drive of the day and the resulting bogey Butler’s expectations on his home course took a beating.
“Opening with a bogey is certainly not the way you want to start you home pro-am,” said Butler
He managed to get back on track with successive bogey’s on the 16th, 17th and 18th before lighting up the course. Butler reeled off five three’s in a row to go to 4-under the card and into a share of the lead.
“I birdied the first to go back to square and then parred the 2nd. A run of birdie, eagle, birdie then certainly helped,” added Butler
Despite a bogey 4 on the par 3 8th, Butler made the turn for home 3-under the card one shot from the lead. He traded birdies and bogeys on the 10th and 11th before back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th to move to the outright lead at 5-under. Butler held his nerve for a par on the 14th and would soon enter the clubhouse as the leader.
This win was Butler’s first on the Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series and his first Professional win since his Trainee days some years ago.
“It’s great to finally win one, and what better place to do it but here, my home club,” said Butler
The Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series continues on Friday at the Yallourn Golf Club for a pro-am that will give many of the player their first look at the course which is set to host the Gippsland Super 6 event on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia in 2019.
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