Too close to call

Normal, Sports

The National, Thursday 2nd May 2013


THE 2013 South Pacific Export Papua New Guinea Open shapes up to be one of the closest in recent years.

When play starts this morning at the Royal Port Moresby Golf Club course, five previous champions will line up for another shot at glory.

They include defending champion Paul Spargo, Matthew Ballard (2011), Richard Wright (2009), Leigh Deagan (2010) and Brad Burns (1999) among 66 professionals in what is seen as one of the strongest fields to ever assemble for the championship.

Tournament director Darren Stocks is looking forward to play getting under way.

“The national championship continues to grow and following on from the success of last year’s championship, professionals will play for a prize purse of A$137,500 (K311,279),” Stocks said.

“Rain has hampered preparations in the lead-up to this year’s championship and it has taken a lot of hard work to get the course up to the condition it is in. 

“The course, however, is drying out nicely and hopefully by the time the first ball has been hit the course will be in good shape.”

This year’s championship will offer greater opportunities to the golfing public with a Junior Pro-Am, two junior clinics and a sponsors’ Pro-Am.

The Junior Pro-Am took place on Tuesday with 15 excited young players given the chance to play alongside five professionals. 

The experience was priceless for the juniors and certainly a highlight they will not forget any time soon.     

The tournament is now a part of the Choice Hotels PGA Pro-Am Series, which comprises of over 200 events. 

Played across more than 170 golf courses around Australia and internationally, the Choice Hotels PGA Pro-Am Series plays an important part in the development of Australia’s professional golfers while growing the game at the grassroots level by engaging an estimated 48,000 amateur golfers each year.

Each amateur who competes in the Choice Hotels PGA Pro-Am Series has the opportunity to win a coveted pro-am place in the Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola to be played in November on the Gold Coast, Queensland. 

Stocks did not want to predict a winner, saying it was too early at this stage.

“It is pretty strong field this year but Grant Scott, Simon Houston and a rough outsider Luke Paroz are the ones that came to mind,” he said.

Spargo said he was keen to defend the title if the green or fairway was good for him in the next three days. 

The tournament goes over four days and he can certainly win it again. 

But it’s always difficult to defend a title but I am certain he will be around the top of the leaderboard over the next four days.

The Kingstons won the 2013 Sharp Pro Am event yesterday at the Royal Port Moresby Golf Club.

The team of four that claimed a 62 inch flat screen television, sponsored by Brian Bell Group of Companies, consisted of professional’s Peter Zwart, Sam Eaves, Paul Muddle and PNG local female golfer and ladies captain Ros Taufa with a high score of 53.65 finishing on top of 19 other groups.

Running second were Chris Wood, Brett Rankin, Sri Balassubramania and Murray Brain (53.65) while Daniel Meade, David Klein, Bill Crain and Noel Warren came third on 54 points.

2013 Sharp Pro-Am top five results: The Kingstons (53.65); Chris Wood, Brett Rankin, Sri Balassubramania, Murray Brain (53.65); Daniel Meade, David Klein, Bill Crain, Noel Warren (54); Luke Paroz, Craig Hancock, Joe Lai, Wajoo Hanafi (54.35) and Henry Epstein, Matthew Field, Paul Pease, Peter Beswick (54.5)