CHIP SHOTS: The fastest quip in the West

Robert Allenby
Robert Allenby during the first round

Brett Coletta is a gentleman and owner of one of the sweetest swings in Australian golf. And now he can add razor wit to his list of skills.

A volunteer who spoke to Golf NSW said he overheard Allenby and Coletta discussing the Australian Open next week at Royal Sydney, and the conversation went along something like this

Allenby: “You playing in the Australian Open next week?”

Coletta: “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve got a start.”

Allenby: “I won it in 1994, you know.”

Coletta: “I wasn’t even born then.”

Two days later Allenby was full of praise for the young Victorian’s swing and temperament. “He's probably got the best swing I've seen of any golfer for many, many years,” Allenby said, before tipping him as a future great of Australian golf.

 

Connor Syme
Connor Syme rehydrates during his sizzling round of 64/ Picture: Andy Zakeli

Connor Syme’s father Stuart only takes the best advice when managing his son’s well-being during the heat of the Australian summer. Although it’s not summer yet, Stonecutters Ridge was sizzling with temperatures into the mid-30s.

“He came out and played in January in the Aussie Amateur and it got to 46 degrees, and I was amazed that he managed to play at his best in that temperature. He seems to like it.

“This (weather) would be the leading news story if we got this in Scotland. The adjustments we make are just about hydration. That’s my role - just keep handing him water and that he eats well. Jack Nicklaus said drink something, eat something every hole. There’s all these great people telling what to do, so that’s what we’ve done.”

As for his golf “he played well today, but also the first few days apart from a couple of daft mistakes. And he’s got a problem with 16. It just gets him every time."

The webber crew
That's Kade's dad, with straw hat: Picture: Andy Zakeli

Remember Kade Webber? He’s the smallest caddie in the field, and when we met him yesterday it was his mum Shannan telling us her 13-year-old golf-crazy son plays the game from dawn till dusk.

We can now confirm how he actually does that. This photo is of the best seat in the house for the NSW Open, located behind the 12th hole. As Peter Lonard and Connor Syme were standing over their putts this afternoon, you could hear kids splashing in the pool and the classic banter of men having a few cold beers.

Turns out, the house belongs to the Webber family. And this is how they are spending their Saturday, whilst Kade lugs around King’s golf bag.

Actually we saw Kade’s mum in the clubhouse this morning. We asked how Kade was handling the heat and the 6.7km walk. “I gave him Radox in his bath last night,” she said. “He was that tired.”

 

Kade Webber
Kade Webber and Sydney Professional Jason King

 

Kade Webber can barely carry the bag belonging to tour professional Jason King, but such is the lad’s addiction to golf that if the event ran for two weeks he’d still show up.

 

The 12-year-old looked a forlorn sight yesterday struggling with Moore Park professional’s bag down the 10th hole, he almost took took the thunder from his boss's impressive opening round of four-under 68.

 

On the bag again today, this time with mum Shannon following, she said: “Kade loves it. He’ll crawl to the finish if he has to. He plays here (at Stonecutters) from dawn to dusk. He can’t get enough of it.”

 

Does he go to school? “Yes he does. William Dean Public School,” said Shannon.

 

Isn’t today a school day though? “Yes it is, but they gave him the day off. They’re very impressed.”

 

Just as impressive is Kade’s handicap, an official 13 on a golf course that demands quality stroke play. And with King a shot clear of the cut line (-3), perhaps Kade's enthusiasm will inspire King to ensure he’s here for the weekend.

 

Even if he isn’t we know for certain that Kade will be.

 

Mark Hale and his mates
Mark Hale and his mates at Stonecutters Ridge

Mudgee amateur Mark Hale started out this week as a 1000-1 shot to lift the Kel Nagle cup come Sunday, but then something weird happened.

 

Hale, an 18-time club champion at Branxton Golf Club, would be happy to make the cut this weekend (he’s at -1 for round one), but something else thinks differently.

 

“A few mates of mine have a thoroughbred racing punting page on Facebook and they posted up that I was 1000-1 and they just chucking $20 each one me. It’s all the boys from work, the Mudgee community is just so excellent, so supportive.

 

“It (the odds) just kept going down and down and the next thing you know I’m 150-1.  It didnt take long for one betting agency to suspend betting on Hale on Tuesday night.

 

Given the responsibility now of performing to the odds and also expectations of his family and friends, Hale is changing nothing.

 

“I’ll hit three wedges, three drivers and a few putts - then straight onto the tee for me. I don’t hit practise balls. I’m not an athlete, as you can see.”

 

 

SIRENS BLAST, PLAY STOPS

 

Unexpected siren blasts usually signals the end of play for severe weather, but at 11am this morning, the sun was shining and only a few clouds in the skyline. Players were confused, until the volunteers reminded this was Remembrance Day.

 

Throughout Australia, at 11am on November 11, we observe a minute’s silence to mark the 98th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18). The ceremony is in memory of those Australians who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.

 

Sign Right Here.

Back in September, John Lyras won his way into the Open with a one-shot win at Camden in the regional amateur qualifiers, which he described at the time as “big, this is huge, this is mad, this is awesome”. He started slowly in his first major pro tournament today, admitting to nerves but steadied to shoot four-under. Now the 19-year-old is out of the tournament for a classic error, signing for the wrong score.

“Rookie mistake” one pro commented. Lyras signed for a 67 instead of the 68 he actually scored.

John Lyras
John Lyras tees off the in the NSW Open

 

It’s Nick but not how you know him.

Who can forget Nick O’Hern's titanic fight against Peter Lonard for the Australian Masters title at Coolum, Qld back in 2006? The wiry O’Hern was a staple of the Australian summer of golf by then: bright red hair, splash of zinc on his bottom lip, pants way too baggy for a light-framed man - he totally stood out. He kind of retired in 2015, about the same time they banned the belly putter from professional golf. But he’s back here at the NSW Open competing again and with a bit of fire in the belly. Not that you would recognise one aspect of his game. He’s now putting right-handed. 

Nick O'Hern
Nick O'Hern

Speaking of lefties …

Victorian professional Christopher Mueck is registered as a right-handed golfer in his entry for the Open, but he can also hit a left-handed shot if required, which is exactly what he needed on the par five 1st. At 520m, the first has a lone ghost gum standing like a lighthouse on the right-hand side of the fairway in the landing zone for long-hitters. Mueck’s drive stopped 12 inches from the tree on the wrong side for a right-hander, forcing him to turn his club and play left-handed. Not surprisingly, he chopped it to safety (about 25m), casually pulled out a three-wood and hit it crisply to four feet for birdie. 

Christopher Mueck
Christopher Mueck tees off during the first round of the NSW Open