This week, The Brisbane Golf Club will again play host to the event which, while not carrying the same profile it has in many of its earlier years, still offers a focal point for tournament golf in Queensland and provides an opportunity for emerging and established players to enhance their careers.
Amongst its significant line-up of past champions are some of Australia’s best-ever golfers. Norman Von Nida, Eric Cremin, Harry Pickworth, Jim Ferrier, Kel Nagle, Bruce Devlin, Billy Dunk, Greg Norman, Graham Marsh and Peter Senior are but a few of the notable names to have won the title but in 2018 the event adds yet another dimension.
For the very first occasion in the history of the championship a female golfer joins the field, promising to create quite a talking point in the build-up to the event starting on Thursday.
19 year old Queenslander, Becky Kay, has not only gained a start but impressively has done so through qualifying rather than being granted a sponsor's exemption which has been, typically, the only means that female golfers have taken their place in men’s pro tournaments nationally or internationally.
Kay earned her place in the field during a Queensland High Performance event trial at The Brisbane Golf Club recently where she posted a 2-under round from the men's championship tees against both men and woman to earn her spot.
Clearly the classy Kay is excited about the opportunity she has earned by right but is keeping a lid on her expectations.
“I haven’t really thought about expectations as I don’t know how I will measure up against the guys but as long as I play my game and hopefully hole a lot of putts then it would be good and we will see where we finish.
“I play against the Queensland Academy of Sport guys all the time and I love competing against them but to compete against some of the best professionals in Australia is the next level.
“The QAS plays here every Monday and sometimes Friday so I know the course well but this is a very much different set-up."
Kay is one the Australia’s best female golfers and further confirmed her standing with an impressive 6th placing in the individual contest at the Espirito Santo Trophy in Ireland in September.
She has had a brilliant year in 2018 including a second consecutive Riversdale Cup win, and victories in the SA Amateur and WA Amateur and has also shown on the occasions she has played in female professional events in her career thus far, that she has the game to contend at a very high level.
Kay also finished 6th at the 2015 Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines when she was just 16 years of age against a strong Ladies European Tour field.
This is, however, another level again but her inclusion in the field provides a point of difference to an otherwise Tier 2 PGA Tour of Australasia event and some much-needed interest to the $110,000 championship.
Brand new professional Shae Wools-Cobb during practice at The Brisbane Golf Club.
The Queensland Open has, in recent years and because of its timing in the calendar, seen a number of amateurs choose this event to turn pro and this year is no exception.
Sunshine Coast golfer Shae Wools-Cobb (pictured) makes his pro debut after an amateur career which culminated in him representing Australia at the recent Eisenhower Trophy and Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Singapore.
Last weekend, Victorian amateur Zach Murray won the WA Open to secure a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour of Australasia, further highlighting the narrowing gap between elite amateur golf in Australia and those competing on the local pro circuit.
Whether Wools-Cobb can produce a similar result this week remains to be seen but he will have plenty of local support from family and friends as he plays for his living for the first occasion.
Canberra’s Matthew Millar is the leading world ranked player in the field ahead of 2018 New Zealand Open winner Daniel Nisbet, Queenslander Jake McLeod, New Zealander Mark Brown and NSW’s Travis Smyth.
Smyth is another to have won at this level while still an amateur when successful at last year's Northern Territory PGA Championship.
Last week's runner-up, David Mucheluzzi, is another Victorian amateur and clearly capable of breaking through while last year's Australian PGA Championship runner-up, Jordan Zunic, is also here as he tries to get his game back to the level of late 2017.
Defending champion Michael Sim, is attending Stage Three qualifying for the 2019 Japan Golf Tour this week and can't defend but the field and event still carry many sub-stories suggesting the outcome could add further to the long and rich history of the Queensland Open.
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