Tour News

Norris turns back the clock at Coolum

(Photo: Anthony Powter)
Exactly two years ago Jason Norris missed the cut at the Australian PGA Championship at the Hyatt Regency Coolum and then attended the traditional Cut Party which has become a feature of the week's activities. That function brings together players, media, organisers and just about everyone who has some association with the event and who wants to be there.

Soon after the party that night and trying to find a way home, Norris grabbed a push bike at the Resort and headed for the taxi rank. He ran into an obstacle and so badly injured himself that it would take seven months before he could play again. It took considerably longer before he could actually say he was back to being anywhere normal. Ongoing surgery was required to the face but he was forced out of tournament golf for several months.

This year the South Australian based Victorian will not miss the cut in the event, in fact as he looks ahead to tomorrow he contemplates the possibility of contending for the title over the final 36 holes.

A second round of 67 this morning has Norris within three of the overnight leader Min-Kyu Han and should Han falter at all in the more difficult afternoon conditions today he could find himself even closer to contention.

"Every time I walk past that place it brings back memories," said Norris, referring to where he came to grief in December of 2007. "I guess you could say this place owes me. I was playing well before the accident and now feel I am back to where I was then."

Norris has played several events in Asia this year and combined with Tier 2 events in Australia has put together five top ten finishes in 2009 for one of his more consistent seasons in professional golf. Norris has two wins to his credit on the Von Nida Tour both coming just a few weeks prior to his accident.

Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby had battled the more demanding golf course on Thursday afternoon and today, with the benefit of early morning conditions, they were not about to let slip the opportunity to improve their standing in the event.

When Allenby, who won last week's Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, birdied his 10th hole he moved to four under for the day and 5 under for the tournament and into a share of 3rd position. Unfortunately for Allenby he would double bogey his 12th hole (the course's 3rd) and slipped back to 3 under but did recover to finish at 4 under.

The double at the third came about after he hit his second into the water and took his trousers off to play the shot. He advanced it only a few feet then chipped it up and missed the putt. Despite his significant amount of travelling of late Allenby is still confident of his chances over the weekend.

"I wish I was a couple closer but I know I am swinging it well and hitting it well. I got caught out a few times with clubs today but I think I will be around on Sunday."

Appleby was playing in the same group as Allenby and he too would improve on his overnight score. Appleby dropped a shot early but later added three birdies including one at his last hole of the round to finish at 6 under and within striking distance of the leader Han who was not long into his round when Appleby finished his.

Appleby has turned his game around in recent months putting that transformation down to hard work and trying to become more patient on the golf course. "I have won here before," said Appleby referring to his win in 1998 which came just a few months after the tragic passing of his first wife Renay. "I would love to win here again and keep the world ranking points moving forward instead of the other way they have been going for much of this year."

Brisbane golfer Bronson La'Cassie was another to advance his cause when he teed off at 7.55am.

The University of Minnesota graduate is a fine young player, a win in the prestigious Western Amateur in 2006 further proof of that. La'Cassie agonisingly missed out on qualifying at the recent PGA Tour School but with a full season on the Nationwide Tour in 2010 his career now has direction.

La'Cassie moved to 6 under for the tournament when he birdied the 12th but a double at the 14th saw him slip to 4 under before he too staged a late comeback to finish at 5 under.

So as the morning rounds finished it was still Han ahead by three over Norris and Appleby and by four over Bronson La'Cassie.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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