I’m afraid I didn’t spend Saturday night watching the Australian PGA, but it certainly sounded like an exciting final round, ending with a three-way playoff. South Korean KT Kim, who basically had his “Hello, world” moment at the Presidents Cup a week earlier, held the 54-hole lead, while American Bubba Watson trailed by just a shot. Both blew it on Sunday.
Meanwhile, three Australians, Greg Chalmers, who won the Australian Open two weeks prior, Robert Allenby, who went 0-5 at Royal Melbourne, and Marcus Fraser, seized the opportunity with a dramatic finish in regulation that led to a ho-hum playoff – at least that’s what I gathered from Peter Stone of the Sydney Morning Herald:
After an extraordinary, no let’s make that bizarre, day’s play where they were, metaphorically speaking, preparing the casualty ward for the train wreck that was occurring on the course with all manner of disasters befalling several of the leading players, it came down to a play-off between Chalmers, Allenby and Marcus Fraser.
Chalmers was on the practice range after firing a last-round five under par 67 to be the clubhouse leader at 12 under, but challengers remained on course, notably Allenby and Fraser. Allenby drained a seven-metre birdie putt on the 18th and he, too, headed to the range. Then came Fraser. His birdie putt was about 20 metres – he remarked later that it would become 100 metres when he retells the story – and with a last gasp it dropped in the hole.
His was a display of raw emotion, of ecstasy, which turned to agony just a few minutes later when they hit off the 18th tee once more. He rifled it into the lake, his hopes of victory all but gone. Allenby, whose win-loss record in play-offs is almost Guinness World Records stuff at 11-1, hit into the right rough, a tree in his path, so all he could do was chip out.
In other words, Fraser, whose biggest professional victory appears to be the 2010 Ballantine’s Championship, let the pressure get to him or that last putt took too much out of him.
Allenby pulled a Robert Allenby. With Chalmers safely on the green in two, Allenby had one last chance to extend the playoff, but he missed a four-meter putt (what’s that in the silly U.S. metric system? I’ll assume it’s short), leaving the unassuming left-hander to claim his second consecutive win, along with the second leg of the Australian Triple Crown.
I say Allenby’s failure is partly a result of karma, too. Allenby spent the most of the week defending his lousy showing at the Presidents Cup, blaming everything and everyone — from the greens at Royal Melbourne to his teammates -- yes, really! His teammates! It’s no wonder why Allenby is so loved in the team room. Oh, he’d also like everyone who claims he’s in a slump to “go get your own slump.”
Chalmers is certainly this year’s “Mr. November.” Perhaps his hole-in-one on the second hole at the Hyatt Regency resort course in the first round was a sign that it would once again be his week to hoist the trophy.
Greg shed no tears in the winner’s circle this time, though — it was a piece of cake compared to the pressure he felt at the Australian Open.
“It didn’t feel the same today, purely because I think I used up a lot of emotion two weeks ago and today I was a little more comfortable and a little less stressed about it . . . it was a lot more difficult at the Australian Open with pressure . . . and Tiger [Woods] and company, and everybody around. This time it was more about just keep your foot on the gas,” Chalmers said.
Now he’s faced with what seems to be a tough decision for him. He’s entered in the Australian Masters at Victoria Golf Club, starting December 15, but he’s not sure yet whether or not he’ll play:
“If it was next week yes. I am concerned I am going to sit around for two weeks and be lazy and not be prepared properly.
“The fact we have a couple of weeks until it starts is a worry for me. I hadn’t planned to play until I won the Open. I still have flights to go to Perth to see my family.
“Do you visit family or do you stay and play? It’s going to be a tough choice. I am not sure what to do.”
Okay, I know family is important and all that, but I’m sure they’ll understand and the trip can be rescheduled. I’m even betting his family would actually encourage Greg to play instead of visiting them. It almost sounds like Chalmers is trying to talk himself out of playing the Aussie Masters because he’s scared of failure or something.
In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer. Winning the first two legs of the Aussie Triple Crown doesn’t happen every day…or ever.
Here’s my two cents: Don’t be lazy for the next two weeks. Give yourself a few days or even the whole week to rest and hang out with your family and then get your butt back to the course so you’re ready to vie for the Triple Crown.
This is a defining moment and a chance to make history. Seize the opportunity! I think Luke Donald needs to call Greg and give him a little pep talk.
(AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)