07 Mar 2022 | Participation |

Play 9 winners off to St Andrews

by Dane Heverin

Shane Ritchie and Ann Campbell are off to St Andrews this July.
Shane Ritchie and Ann Campbell are off to St Andrews this July.

Two lucky golfers are set for the trip of a lifetime to play in the 2022 R&A 9 Hole Challenge Final at the Old Course at St Andrews in the lead-up to the 150th Open Championship this July.

Shane Ritchie from Coolangatta and Tweed Heads Golf Club in New South Wales and Ann Campbell from Gove Country Golf Club in the Northern Territory will grace the hallowed turf on Friday 8 July – the week before The Open is staged – following their standout performances at the recent Play 9 national final.

Ritchie (21 points) and Campbell (20 points) mastered one of Australia’s premier courses, Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne, to take out last month’s nine-hole stableford event and earn their tickets to the Home of Golf.

Campbell, who travelled from Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land for the final, could not believe that her great efforts to participate had paid off.

“It’s pretty hard to comprehend actually. I’m still nervous, right from the start to now,” she said.

“It took us two days to get here – one day to get here and two days to get home now. This is an amazing opportunity to play on beautiful golf courses.

“Huntingdale was absolutely beautiful. It’s been a dream.”

Ritchie, who originally hails from Gove too, cannot wait for the opportunity that awaits.

“I’ve never been over to the UK before,” he said.

“The whole family plays golf and they all dream about that. This is amazing. It’s been overwhelming really to come down and play on this course.

“I’ve been nervous the whole time. Just trying to keep my emotions in tact, but enjoying the moment as well. It really has been an honour.”

In partnership with the R&A, Play 9 is part of Golf Australia’s commitment to promote nine-hole golf, which multiple research studies have suggested can help significantly in attracting new people to the game and retaining golfers during time-poor periods of their lives.

The qualifying period for the 2021 event began in June, allowing every nine-hole round in Australia submitted through GolfLink during the qualifying period to count as an entry to the Play 9 campaign.

Following delays due to Covid throughout both 2020 and 2021, the Australian qualifiers finally had their chance to play for the lucrative prize.

The national final was held in conjunction with the WPGA Tour of Australasia’s The Athena held at Sandringham Golf Course, and the field of 38 qualifiers from across the country enjoyed a tour of the event over the weekend before teeing it up at the Home of the Australian Masters on the Monday morning.

Competitors played for the title from their respective year, but only the top male and top female golfer earned the lucrative trip to Scotland.

Ritchie was joined by Sandra Hatton (17 points) from Riverside Golf Club as 2021 Play 9 national champions, while Campbell and Brian Smith (20 points) from Cottesloe Golf Club in Western Australia were crowned the 2020 champions.

The full results are available here.

The Play 9 campaign will continue in 2022 with the qualification period for the year to be announced shortly.

For more information please visit www.golf.org.au/play9.

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