Gove product Anthony Quayle nearly pinched all the lollies at the recently completed Fiji International at the Natadola Bay golf course with a come-from-behind performance on the final day reminiscent of Greg Norman in his heyday.
Norman routinely took the decision to attack golf courses regardless of the consequences when presented with a formidable Sunday deficit and faced with a similar predicament, 23-year old Quayle took a leaf out of the Shark’s book, attacking from go to whoa when others took a more conservative route.
Playing alongside a childhood idol in four-time major champion Ernie Els who enjoyed his best tournament of the year by far, Quayle shot a magnificent nine-under par 63 which included two eagles on the back nine, including an eagle two at the dangerous par-four 12th after bravely driving the green.
Els must have been shaking his head in dismay at having shot a seven-under 65 of his own and lost ground to Quayle, who momentarily took the clubhouse lead before an audacious pitch in for eagle on the 71st hole gave India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar the edge playing the final hole.
30-year old Bhullar was rock solid on the final hole with a two-putt par from close range to pip Quayle by a stroke, with the Territorian taking outright second place at 13-under and certainly more positives than negatives from the experience as he searches for his first win as a professional.
Anthony Quayle. (Pic: Golfplus Media)
Quayle has agonised over whether to return to Palmerston for the MMC Northern Territory PGA Championship but has made the wise but still difficult decision to maintain his focus on the Japan Golf Tour in a bid to secure his playing rights for next season. However, a great many of the leading 25 players who contended in Fiji will head home to recharge their batteries next week before the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia moves on to Palmerston from 16 -19 August.
Heading the Palmerston-bound players who performed well in Fiji was WA’s Jarryd Felton (outright fifth), Queensland’s Jake McLeod (T6th) and the ACT’s Matthew Millar and Victorian Andrew Martin who tied for ninth place.
McLeod (pictured) in particular looks to be in promising touch with another strong showing a week after the young Queenslander recorded a career-best result with a tie for second in the Royal Cup in Thailand on the Asian Tour. (A second ‘NT PGA champion sporting a ponytail’ perhaps!?)
Others to perform strongly included former Fiji International champion Steve Jeffress (T11th), James Marchesani (T14th), Damien Jordan (T16th) with Michael Wright, Mark Brown and Travis Smyth all sharing 18th place.
Defending MMC Northern Territory PGA Champion Smyth appears to have his game trending in the right direction as he prepares to defend his title in a fortnight. A series of missed cuts through the middle of the year have been deflating but Smyth should arrive in Palmerston buoyed by some solid Asian Tour performances in successive weeks in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and now Fiji.
Jake McLeod during Round 3, 2018 Fiji International. (Photo: PGA of Australia)
Palmerston’s Aaron Pike will be hoping to return home with his final day ‘Fiji form’ intact, backing up a forgettable third round 81 with a three-under par 69 on Sunday which unfortunately included a double-bogey seven on the opening hole.