Fresh from securing a card for the 2018 PGA TOUR Champions season, David McKenzie returned home to win the 2018 Goonawarra Pro-Am by two shots.
The 2018 Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series teed off yesterday in bright and sunny conditions at the Goonawarra Golf Club in Melbourne’s west.
Scoring was subdued in the morning with only four players under par. Goonawarra Golf Club General Manager, and Victorian PGA Manager of the Year in 2016, Jeff Graham was disappointed to make a late bogey and finish at 1-under 71.
Young PGA Professional Cameron John made his first pro-am start since turning Pro late in 2017. He had a mixed day carding six birdies, however, three bogeys and a double on the 4th hole saw him finish tied with Graham at 1-under the card. They were soon joined by Ruben Lal who was another one to finish with late bogeys.
Reigning Victorian Pro-Am Order of Merit winner Mitchell A. Brown was the pick of the morning players. A front-9 of 2-under the card and an even par back-9 saw him post the clubhouse lead at 2-under 70.
The wind picked up in the afternoon and scoring became a lot tougher. Matt Jager was the first to challenge Brown. Starting his round slowly from the 8th hole with a bogey, Jager soon got going with three birdies on the back-9. He then birdied the 2nd hole to move one clear of Brown with five holes to play.
Jager’s round then got interesting, he made bogey at the 3rd, eagled the 4th, bogeyed the 5th and birdied the 6th but it was the bogey on the 7th, his last hole that finally saw him finish tied for third with Graham, John and Lal from the morning and a shot behind Brown.
The eventual winner David McKenzie began his round from the 18th hole and he got straight to work with a birdie before giving it back with a bogey on the 2nd hole. Two further birdies on the front-9 saw him make the turn at 2-under the card.
A crowd favourite in the VIP tent located on the 10th tee, McKenzie knocked his tee shot inside seven feet but he missed the birdie putt to remain at 2-under. The day was getting hotter and so was McKenzie with birdies on 13, 14 and 15 to jump out to a clear lead with just two holes remaining.
Closing his round with two regulation pars, McKenzie signed for 5-under 67 and the win, his first in nine attempts at Goonawarra.
McKenzie thanked his amateur playing partners for sticking with him after being paired together in the same event for a number of years in a row.
“I played with Gary, Terry and Chris and I have played with them almost every year for the last several years,” said McKenzie.
“Usually it’s my first tournament of the year and I haven’t done any practice and they told me today that I’ve played a lot better than I usually do.
“I’d done some practice this time and I finally got a win for the boys so thank you.”
McKenzie was full of praise for outgoing General Manager and PGA Professional Jeff Graham who has accepted a position as General Manger at Bairnsdale Golf Club which he begins next week.
“I want to congratulate Jeff and the work that he’s done here. The way that the golf club has gone from the first pro-am here nine years ago is absolutely massive,” added McKenzie.
The Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series heads to the Bellarine Peninsula next weekend for the Maddie’s Day on the Purple Pro-Am at the Clifton Springs Golf Club. The event is the first charity pro-am raising funds for the Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision Foundation.
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