Two of the biggest names in the field shared the lead ahead of the third round, both undoubtedly wondering which of the top eight spots they would occupy at day’s end.
As both instead packed their bags Saturday evening they must have been contemplating just what had happened.
Ultimately it was Thailand’s Prom Meesawat who claimed top spot at the end of 54 holes of strokeplay to book a first round bye as one of the top eight finishers ahead of the six hole matches which will decide the trophy tomorrow.
American Sean Crocker, in-form Lucas Herbert and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen shared second with Dimi Papadatos, Sam Horsfield, Brad Kennedy and Yasuka Miyazato rounding out the top eight.
Nine players went extra holes to determine the last eight places in the top 24 to qualify for the matchplay but interesting as all that was it was the fate of Westwood and Rumford that stood out on day three.
Both are highly credentialed, well respected players with multiple significant victories on their resumes and the demise of both left many wondering what had happened.
The reason, as Rumford himself said at the 2015 Australian Masters in explaining a difficult year on the European Tour, is actually pretty simple: “Golf is hard.”
To his eternal credit, Rumford faced the TV cameras and other assorted press in the immediate aftermath of what must have been a particularly painful round of 78.
As defending champion and a West Australian local there were extra pressures in play for one of the more likable players on the world stage.
Family and friends were following on the course and after a 64-72 start nobody – least of all Rumford himself – would have seen this coming.
“I guess my only consolation is I get to spend tomorrow with my two girls, so there’s always a positive,” Rumford told Fox Sport’s Kate Burton just minutes after signing his card.
“Tough day,” he continued. “It was just a long day. No excuses, I just didn’t have my feels today and the wind was pretty much about as blustery as yesterday so it just goes to show you an appreciation of good rounds around here.
“It’s such a fine line playing Lake Karrinyup and it always has been. I know its dangers, I know its trickeries out here and today… just my short game wasn’t my usual self and didn’t putt as well which sort of compounded and put a bit of pressure on me coming home.
“Just a really flat round of golf for me today and I didn’t really quite…just wasn’t quite feeling it.”
Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat overcame the ever-improving Anthony Quayle on the fourth extra hole to grab the last spot in the matchplay field.
With the finicky format of just six holes the eventual prize could be anyone’s but wither way, Rumford says he’ll be watching.
“I loved it last year and it’s a shame I didn’t make the matchplay,” he said.
“It’s going to be another worthy champion this year. There’s some exciting golf to be played. Unfortunately I won’t be a part of it but I’ll be watching tomorrow.”
Many of us will but regardless who hoists the trophy Rumford has proved himself a winner again this week.
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