Yeerongpilly Cup Cliffhanger

They did not know it at the time, but leading Australian amateurs Jed Morgan and Lawry Flynn on Sunday set the scene for the dramatic finish to the USPGAs BMW Championship in Chicago 24 hours later.

Contesting the prestigious Yeerongpilly Cup at The Brisbane Golf Club, Jed and Lawry finished three-under the card to lead the impressive field of 80 players, and headed back to the par-five first tee for a sudden-death play-off. Jed, the current Australian Amateur Champion, then won with a birdie.

Ironically, at Olympia Fields on Monday morning Australian time, John Rahm and Dustin Johnson were tied after the final 18 holes of the final FedExCup qualifier, with a sudden-death play-off also needed to decide the winner. And again, it was a birdie – to Rahm – that won the title at the first play-off hole.

While Jed’s win may not have had the same financial reward as Rahm’s $US1.7 million paycheque, winning such a prestigious trophy was still a big thrill.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to play in the Yeerongpilly Cup previously, because we have usually had other golfing commitments. But I am well aware of the status and history of the event,” he said.

“And not only was it exciting to win an event like this, it was great to play some top competitive golf again. Since Covid we have not had too many opportunities to test ourselves against the best and that was a pretty strong field.”

Jed said he was pleased the event went to play-off as Lawry, who had three birdies to his two on the back nine, would have won on a countback. And he added that while they both played some tidy golf over 18 holes, their play-off was not as spectacular as the one in the US.

“We both found the trees from the tee, me to the right and Lawry to the left. Fortunately, I was able to get it back into play and find a birdie from there,” he said.

The Yeerongpilly Cup was first played in 1927 and at its peak was a lead-in event for southern and country professionals to play in a tournament prior to the Queensland Open. A 36-hole event in the early days, it was changed to 18 holes back in 1958.

The 2020 field of 80 golfers representing 30 clubs was as hot one, with 24 players handicapped at scratch or better. Apart from Jed and Lawry, among the notables were former tennis champions Wayne Arthurs and Scott Draper – who had previously won the NSW PGA – Scott’s brother Mark, cricketers Cameron Boyce and Matthew Renshaw and six-time TBGC Club Champion Cameron Powell.

Brisbane member Tom Deane, playing off a four handicap, shot a one-under par 71 to return the best nett.

In association with the Yeerongpilly Cup, the ladies contested the Brisbane Cup and multiple honour board winner and BGC member Angela Fong (handicap 15) saluted in the nett with 71, while Ashleigh McCourt (Nudgee Golf Club) returned the best gross, 78, to win the Cup which was first contested in 1970.

BGC Captain, Alan Grieve, said that while the thrilling finish to the Yeerongpilly Cup capped off a tremendous day of competition, the outstanding support from other clubs had been a significant boost for the event.

“To have 30 different clubs represented in these difficult times says much about the standing this event holds within the golfing community,” he said.

“The Yeerongpilly Cup has always been a prestigious event on the Brisbane golfing calendar, but we did wonder whether the 89th staging might struggle for numbers because of the Covid situation. However, the support was just fantastic.”

Mr Grieve said BGC had some famous names on its honour boards and this year had added two more who could well be future USPGA champions.

“With Jed winning this event, Louis Dobbelaar our 2020 Champion and Lawry a former Champion, we have the names of some of the best young golfers in the country among our long list of high achievers at our great club,” he said.

“This is something of which our members should feel very proud.”

NB: Both Lawry and Jed train at BGC as part of the Queensland Academy of Sport golf program. – TONY DURKIN