Long Reef Golf Club’s Tom Bateman has secured his place in this year’s NSW Open at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club after firing a two-under par 67 at Nambucca Heads Island Golf Club over the long weekend.
Bateman, from Aberdeen in the Hunter Valley, held on by a shot to take the coveted spot in November’s Championship from Ballina’s Jay Mackenzie and Mudgee’s Mark Hale.
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For Hale, it was another case of so close yet so far after his second-place finish in the NSW Mid-Amateur Championship at Bathurst last month. While Mackenzie, who qualified for last year’s Emirates Australian Open, was left rueing a couple of missed opportunities.
The 24-year-old electrician said he was thrilled to qualify for his first major professional event finally.
“I’m excited as hell, it should be good,” he grinned. “I’ve been close a few times.”
WINNER: Tom Bateman, centre, alongside Golf NSW CEO Stuart Fraser, left, and Nambucca Heads President Kerry McCoy.
Bateman has been playing golf seriously for just under eight years. A committed Rugby League player in his youth, the game became his passion just after he turned 18.
“I played league all my life, but kept getting hurt being bashed around in the Newcastle comp, so I gave it away to concentrate on my golf.”
Bateman will have plenty of company at November’s Championship; he practices a lot with Hayden Gulliver, who qualified for the Open at Thurgoona last month. The pair are coached by Jason Laws, who also coaches the US-based Novacastrian James Nitties.
“Jason is really excited about both of us qualifying. He’s got three players lining up now.
“He’s already planning a practice schedule for us,” Bateman added.
The NSW Senior Open qualifying positions on offer at Nambucca went to Lakelands Robert Martin and Grafton’s Greg Harrison, who both shot six over par 76.