12 Feb 2023 | All Abilities | Vic Open |
Wood wins Inclusive Champs, Taylor goes back-to-back
by Dane Heverin
Lachlan Wood has won his first Victorian Inclusive Championship title by six shots, while Nick Taylor has claimed his second consecutive Australian Wheelchair Golf Championship crown at 13th Beach.
Hervey Bay golfer Wood shot a five-over round of 77 – that included a birdie at the par 4 eighth - on Sunday to follow up his 76 yesterday and he was over the moon to claim the title by adapting to today’s blustery conditions.
“It was definitely a lot windier than yesterday, so the driver stayed in the bag and stuck to 2-iron and tried to pick the course a part,” Wood said.
“Day one I hit driver. I was quite aggressive. Where day two was more about fairways and greens and trying to hold it together.”
Australia’s top ranked golfer with disability Cameron Pollard took out second place with rounds of 81 and 78, while defending champion Stephen Prior joined Wood and Pollard on the podium courtesy of his rounds of 86 and 75 – which was the lowest round of the tournament.
Wood hails from Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria where he began playing golf with close friend and touring professional James Marchesani – who he caddies for when the opportunity arises – and he was a top talent during his junior days.
The 31-year-old got his handicap down to three as a 15-year-old before his life changed a year later when he was seriously injured while a passenger in a single-car accident.
He did not play golf for two years afterwards as he endured a series of operations, but upon moving to Queensland the warmer weather helped him to get back out on course.
Now, Wood is in the PGA of Australia Pathway Program at Hervey Bay and already teaches the game and runs a junior program.
“I’m in year three so the workload is starting to get a bit more,” he said.
“Trying to balance that with work. Obviously, this is going to open up a few more doors and then see if I can balance all three. Try and have some sort of life outside of golf as well but golf is pretty much my life at the moment.”
Wood will receive world ranking points for golfers with disability for the first time after an assessor granted him full rights from watching him play on Saturday. He had initially entered the tournament on an access pass which amounts to early eligibility, and the change of status will create more playing opportunities for him.
Taylor meanwhile earned 64 Stableford points across his two rounds to lift the trophy once again.
“I’m pleased that the wheelchair division is part of the inclusive championships and that we are part of the Vic Open, included in the broader golf community and part of a fantastic event,” he said.
Taylor is a Paralympic silver medallist in wheelchair basketball and has been playing C grade pennant for Port Kembla in New South Wales in recent times.
“Golf is really helping my mental health to be honest in getting out nearly every week and playing at my local club. I’ve started playing pennant golf recently and I’m just enjoying being part of community,” he said.
“I’m getting to play golf with a lot of different people. I’ve played a lot of wheelchair sport in the last 20 years but that is pretty much an exclusive community of wheelchair users. Golf is so much more inclusive, and I can play with anybody in my local community – able bodied and disabled players alike.”
Taylor was also full of praise for the locals at 13th Beach who came out and showed their support for the players each day.
“We’ve been really fortunate in that a lot of the locals in this community that live around the course have really engaged with us, walked around the course with us and have really made it a special event for us,” he said.
“We made some great friends last year that we’ve caught up with again this year and having the local community engaged with disabled sport and them coming around the course with us has made it really special.”
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