22 Feb 2023 | Industry news |
Hawkes' high hopes for Tasmanian Open
by Australian Golf Media
By Tony Webeck
Tasmanian Simon Hawkes hopes the reimagined Tasmanian Open will herald an exciting new era for professional golf in the state when it tees off at Launceston Golf Club on Thursday. This year marks 110 years since the Tasmanian Open was first played and its list of winners – both male and female, amateur and professional – rivals that of any other state open throughout the country. Two-time major winner David Graham, Bob Shearer, Frank Phillips, Stewart Ginn and Brett Ogle are all former male professional champions while the likes of Mathew Goggin (1994), Geoff Ogilvy (1998), Brendan Jones (1999), Nick Flanagan (2003), Jarryd Felton (2014) and Hayden Hopewell (2021) have won as amateurs. Former champions of the Women’s Tasmanian Open include two-time major winner Minjee Lee, Nikki Campbell, Lindy Goggin and Tammy Hall. Hawkes is the only professional winner since 1992, even though the 2016 tournament was not played as a professional event. He won a Garmin watch that he gave to his caddie for winning his state open seven years ago and wants to help drive a resurgence of professional golf in Tasmania as it makes its return to the adidas PGA Pro-Am Series. Boasting some of the most spectacular golf courses on the planet, Hawkes believes the next step is to host high-quality professional tournaments that will help to inspire the development of elite amateurs in the state. “It’s a big first step in hopefully bringing more professional tournament golf into the state of Tasmania,” Hawkes said. “In parallel with all the wonderful courses we now have down here, showcasing more high performance and professional golf down in Tasmania provides a benefit for people of Tasmania to look at golf as a sport. “If you have all these fantastic courses an hour from where you live and you are seeing these high-profile athletes, that’s the thing that kids see. “I’d say that was the one thing I was robbed of as a kid. Mat (Goggin) would come back once a year when he wasn’t playing the PGA TOUR and do a clinic but we weren’t consistently around any tour players. “With people getting more access to high-end tournament golf in the state of Tasmania, it’s a good opportunity for younger people to see where the benchmark is and hopefully grow high development here in the state. “The TPS events (on the Webex Players Series) are starting to get a lot of traction so I don’t see why, with the right amount of work put in, that Tasmania can’t put itself back on the main tour in the years to come.” The $35,000 prize purse for the 54-hole event is the first time that prize money has been on offer since Darren Cole won in 1992. As has been the case for the past decade, men and women will play concurrent tournaments on the same course seeking to add their names to a championship that has catapulted the careers of many players. “If you look back through the past champions list, it’s a pretty strong list,” Hawkes added. “Within two or three years of winning the Tasmanian Open, a lot of guys go on to win major tournaments. “It’s a weird springboard for a lot of guys. “It’s on the resume of a lot of guys who have gone on to have a lot of success in this country.” And while much of the attention in recent years has been focused on new courses such as Barnbougle Dunes, Cape Wickham, Ocean Dunes and the current build at Seven Mile Beach, Hawkes is excited to return to Launceston where he has enjoyed success in the past. “Launceston Golf Club has always been a very high quality members course up in the north,” said the Hobart-based Hawkes. “In 2019 I won the Super 6 match play at Launceston that was part of the pro-am circuit but growing up I didn’t play it as much as some of the other courses such as Riverside and Mowbray that hosted regional tournaments. “I haven’t been to the course yet but from what I hear they’ve added some irrigation so I imagine the course condition is going to be pretty awesome for the week.”
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