01 Dec 2022 | Australian Open |
Australian golf icons at home on Melbourne’s sandbelt
by Australian Golf Media
Two of Australian golf’s most famous names wound the clock back this afternoon, Peter O’Malley and Peter Fowler showing their class in the opening round of the 2022 ISPS HANDA Australian Open.
O’Malley, who fired an opening round one-over par 71, was particularly impressive in blustery afternoon conditions at Victoria Golf Club.
“It’s great – so good just still to be playing,” said O’Malley who is playing in the tournament for the 30th time. “I played pretty solid, I only hit a couple of bad shots.”
Although the New South Welshman has announced that this will be the final time he contests the national Open, O’Malley’s rich contribution to the sport, both at home and overseas, will remain long after he holes his final putt this week.
That said, he’s planning on being there when the whips are cracking on Sunday.
“I’ll do the same thing again tomorrow, and hopefully into the weekend as well,” O’Malley said. “It’s great to be down on the sandbelt, we haven’t been here for a number of years, but it’s one of my favourite places to play.”
One of only 50 Life Members in the 111-year history of the PGA of Australia, O’Malley - affectionately known as ‘Pom,’ – was inducted in May of this year. Due recognition for his extensive service to golf over more than three decades, he came from humble beginnings to establish one of the more successful careers in Australian golf.
Three times a winner in Europe, he has always been a force to be reckoned with at home; a five-time winner on the PGA Tour of Australasia. A strong performer in the Majors too, O’Malley finished inside the top-ten at the Open Championship twice.
Perhaps best known for his barnstorming finish to the 1992 Scottish Open, O’Malley played the last five holes in 7-under to win ahead of Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie at the Gleneagles King’s Course.
Thereafter, O’Malley continued to give his all to the game in Australia. From 2010, for eight years, he served as a Director for the PGA of Australia, including two as Chair.
During this time, he worked hard to ensure the long-term health of the game in Australia. The fruits of his labour plain to see this week, as Australian golf makes history; hosting the world’s best players in the first national Open to be played by men and women at the same time.
“It’s great to see some of the big names come back for the Australian summer,” O’Malley explained. “All the guys are playing good golf and I think Australian golf is in a good spot.”
Remarkably, in teeing it up this afternoon, Peter Fowler has now played in the national Open in six different decades.
A stunning achievement, he was victorious in 1983, claiming the Stonehaven Cup by three strokes ahead of Ian Baker-Finch.
Incidentally, his win that week came at Kingston Heath Golf Club, so there will be a nice sense of symmetry when he plays there tomorrow; the field split across the two sandbelt gems on Thursday and Friday.
Although he started with a bogey, Fowler rallied to play his front nine in one-under, before a double and two late bogeys on the back nine saw him close with a three-over 73.
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