08 Mar 2023 | Amateur golf |

Dowling to rock Riversdale after 59

by Dane Heverin

Billy Dowling.

Fresh off shooting golf’s magical number of 59, Queensland’s Billy Dowling is hunting a maiden victory in an open age World Amateur Golf Ranking event at the Riversdale Cup in Melbourne this week.

The 17-year-old won the South Australian Junior last year and claimed his home state’s junior title in 2021, and showed why he is one of the brightest young talents in the country when he shot a 12-under par round on his home course of Surfers Paradise Golf Club last week.

“I had been playing pretty well. I can’t say that I thought going into that day that I would shoot a 59 though,” Dowling said with a laugh.

“But when I was playing during that round my putting was really good, I made quite a lot of putts and I was seven-under through nine. I thought that I only need five more birdies for 59 and I thought that was quite doable.”

Dowling is a player familiar to many followers of Australian golf after he almost made the cut at the Queensland Open as a 15-year-old and photos of him spending time with Cameron Smith in Florida last year – as part of the 150th Open champion’s scholarship program – attracted plenty of attention on social media.

Once again Dowling’s phone blew up last week and he even received a surprise message from another Australian to have lifted the Claret Jug.

“I actually received a message from Greg Norman on Instagram. That was quite a surprise. He started following me and said congrats on the 59,” Dowling said.

With his confidence boosted, Dowling is determined to take the magic he discovered during his now famous round into competitive tournaments.

The Riversdale Cup – which includes the likes of PGA Tour players Aaron Baddeley and Harrison Endycott, and LPGA players Sarah Kemp and Karis Davidson on its honour roll – presents Dowling with his first chance to carry his momentum towards a trophy.

His results have been mixed so far this year with the Queensland representative bouncing back from the disappointment of missed cuts at the Australian Amateur and the Australian Master of the Amateurs by coming tied third at the Avondale Amateur and fifth at the Concord Cup.

“(My performances) could be better. I think Avondale was the one event where I played somewhat how I normally do when I’m not in events,” Dowling said.

“That felt like a normal solid tournament where I showed what I can do. Other than that, I didn’t perform as well as I expected in the other events in January.”

Dowling has competed at Riversdale Golf Club once before – when he fell away with a final round 77 last year to finish tied 37th – and he has taken a liking to the venue which hosts the second-oldest amateur championship in Australia.

“I thought it was a really nice course. I played pretty well until the last round, but I really like the layout,” he said.

“It’s hillier and there are some big drops. Going up onto greens that are raised and the bent greens I’m not used to in Queensland. It’s just something different. It’s a cool layout and it brings a different challenge.”

The tournament has attracted a strong field in each of the men’s, women’s and All Abilities events with a host of players who have already lifted silverware this season to tee it up and they are hungry for more success.

New South Wales Amateur champions Shyla Singh and Abel Eduard are confirmed starters. So too are Victorian Amateur winner Joseph Owen, Tasmanian amateur champion Siddharth Nadimpalli and New Zealand amateur champion Jasper Stubbs.

Tasmanian Open winner Toby Walker comes into the tournament in red hot form after he triumphed in the pro-am event last month, while fellow Victorians Amelia Harris and Molly McLean will be players to watch.

Harris qualified for the ISPS HANDA Australian Open last year at only 14 years of age and is one of the top talents in the country. McLean is also still in school but has represented her state and competed in the innovative women’s event The Athena last weekend.

The Riversdale All Abilities Cup is a World Ranking for Golfers with Disability event and will be played for the fourth time with ten players locked in including two-time champion Warren Sutton and world top 100 player Shaun Bakker.

It is a 36-hole event and will be played in conjunction with the Riversdale Cup on Saturday and Sunday.

Find out more about the Riversdale All Abilities Cup here.

Riversdale Cup tee times

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