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Australian Clean Sweep at APGC Senior Championships

With James Lavender and Sue Wooster to the fore, Australia enjoyed a clean sweep of all four titles at the 2023 Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) Senior Championships.

As well as claiming the men’s and women’s individual titles respectively, Lavender and Wooster were instrumental in the successes of the Australian men’s and women’s teams.

While Lavender was pushed hard by two former champions before completing a nerve-tingling wire-to-wire victory, Wooster was able to enjoy a relatively stress-free stroll at Vinpearl Golf Nam Hoi An.

“Congratulations to James and Sue on their fantastic performances and to all members of the winning Australian men’s and women’s team,” said Taimur Hassan Amin, Chairman of the APGC.

Lavender followed up earlier rounds of 68 and 72 with a closing 76. A tap-in bogey on 18 was good enough to secure him the title – and an exemption into the 2024 R&A Senior Amateur.

With a three-day total of even-par 216, Lavender ended one stroke ahead of compatriot Greg Rhodes, last year’s winner, and New Zealander Stuart Duff, the 2019 champion.

Australians James Lavender and Sue Wooster won the individual titles at the 2023 APGC Senior Championships.

But it was far from plain sailing for 62-year-old Lavender, who spent an hour at the range following Wednesday’s second round ironing out a flaw in his swing.

“I was having an issue with my short irons going left and it became a bit stressful on the back nine. In the end that was a little tense and I’m just pleased to end up winning. It’s been an amazing year for me,” said Lavender, whose Vietnam triumph completes a magical year during which he retained his Australian Senior Amateur title, won the Australian and Victorian Senior Order of Merits as well as the Western Australia and Tasmania Senior Amateurs.

Bogeys at the third and fourth gave hope to his pursuers, but Lavender steadied the ship with birdies at the fifth and seventh, both par-fives.

With Indian Sandeep Sandhu, second overnight, and 2023 R&A Senior Amateur champion Brent Paterson of New Zealand struggling, Duff and Rhodes became Lavender’s main threat.

Going to the par-five 18th, Lavender was one shot in front of Rhodes and two ahead of Duff.

Rhodes, playing in the penultimate flight, found trouble off the tee and had to play a left-handed recovery shot from a spiky bush, advancing his ball some 30 metres using a ‘back-to-front sand iron’. “I was fighting a hook all day and it got me on 18,” said Rhodes, whose 30-foot putt for par slid by the cup leaving him to sign off with an even-par 72.

Duff, in the final group with Lavender, also came up agonisingly short, his 20-footer for birdie on the final green lipping out. Had it dropped, it would have secured him a play-off.

“With James in trouble at 18, I knew the situation. I just didn’t make enough putts. I’m pleased for James … but I would have liked to have had my name on the trophy twice,” said Duff.

After an even-par front nine, Lavender dropped shots at 10, 14 and 16. Heading to the 18th tee he knew he was ahead of Duff but was unaware that Rhodes was so close.

With victory within his sight, Lavender than made an uncharacteristic error, opting to use a three-wood for his second shot rather than a four-iron.

“I was right in between clubs … and I ended up topping my three-wood. I couldn’t tell you the last time I did that,” said Lavender, who then had to extricate himself from a fairway bunker. He made it to the putting surface with his fourth and safely two-putted to seal the win.

Meanwhile, Wooster, runner-up in last year’s inaugural APGC Women’s Senior, added a second successive even-par 72 to her opening 75.

The triumphant Australian men's and women's teams.

Her three-over 219 total was five clear of compatriot and first-round leader Gemma Dooley. Louise Mullard, the third member of the Australian team, ended joint third individually with New Zealand’s Lisa Herbert.

“I played steadily, hit a lot of greens and always felt in control,” said Wooster. “After finishing second last year it’s nice to win this time – both individually and as a team.”

Australia’s team aggregate of 443 gave them a comfortable victory from New Zealand (469) with Hong Kong, China claiming third place (481).

The men’s team event was more closely fought with the Australian quartet of Lavender, Rhodes, Mark Allen and Ian Frost retaining the title they won in Malaysia last year after withstanding a strong last-day charge from Korea 2 who edged New Zealand by one shot for second place.

This was just the second occasion since the APGC Senior Championships were inaugurated in 2006 that they’d been staged in Vietnam, the first time being at Montgomerie Links in Danang in 2013.

Gold Sponsors this week were VinpearlGolf and Noressy. Silver Sponsors were Long Bien Golf Course, QUAVIET, Superkit, bep Tran and S Golf.

LEADING MEN’S INDIVIDUAL SCORES

216 – James Lavender (Australia) 68-72-76
217 – Greg Rhodes (Australia) 73-72-72; Stuart Duff (New Zealand) 75-69-73
219 – Kim Yang-kwon (Korea) 75-71-73
222 – Chung Hwan (Korea) 77-71-74
225 – Brent Paterson (New Zealand) 72-73-80; Sandeep S. Sandhu (India) 71-71-83
226 – Andrew Ng (Singapore) 75-74-77; Lai Chee Weng (Singapore) 75-74-77
227 – Kim Dong-sub (Korea) 74-76-77; Syren Johnstone (Hong Kong, China) 74-74-79

 

LEADING MEN’S TEAM SCORES

658 – Australia 216-218-224 (James Lavender 68-72-76; Greg Rhodes 73-72-72; Mark Allen 75-79-76; Ian Frost 78-74-76)
665 – Korea 2 226-218-221 (Kim Dong-sub 74-76-77; Kim Yang-kwon 75-71-73; Chung Hwan 77-71-74; Lim Nae-rack 87-76-74)
666 – New Zealand 223-216-227 (Brent Paterson 72-73-80; Stuart Duff 75-69-73; Tony Chettleburgh 76-75-79; Malcolm Gullery 79-74-75)
676 – India 221-226-229 (Sandeep S. Sandhu 71-71-83; Jaideep Singh 75-81-77; Gaurav Ghosh 75-77-76; David D’Souza 76-78-76)
678 – Korea 1 227-227-224 (Jang Heong-soo 72-77-79; Kim Yeon-gi 76-74-78; Ryo Ki-ro 79-77-73; Jung Gyeong-ho 81-76-73)
 

LEADING WOMEN’S INDIVIDUAL SCORES

219 – Sue Wooster (Australia) 75-72-72
224 – Gemma Dooley (Australia) 74-75-75
231 – Louise Mullard (Australia) 76-79-76; Lisa Herbert (New Zealand) 76-75-80
237 – Yukiko Hirahara (Singapore) 79-81-77
239 – Diana Syer (New Zealand) 80-82-77
240 – Cathy Chung (Hong Kong, China) 83-79-78
241 – Loida Arnold (Hong Kong, China) 81-79-81
245 – Robyn Pellow (New Zealand) 79-84-82
249 – Emiri Sunga (Guam) 82-86-81

LEADING WOMEN’S TEAM SCORES

443 – Australia 149-147-147 (Sue Wooster 75-72-72; Gemma Dooley 74-7575; Louise Mullard 76-79-76)
469 – New Zealand 155-157-157 (Lisa Herbert 76-75-80; Diana Syer 80-82-77; Robyn Pellow 79-84-82)
481 – Hong Kong China 164-158-159 (Loida Arnold 81-79-81; Cathy Chung 83-79-78; Felicia Louey 86-84-92)
 

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