Local first year trainee professional Frazer Droop won the richest trainee professional golf tournament of its type in the world last Friday - the 2017 National Futures Championship at Ballarat.
Frazer, who turns 21-years-of-age on December 5, won by three strokes in a class field of 80. The National Futures Championship comprises the most talented trainees across Australia and the world to chase the prestigious title of 2017 Australian PGA Trainee Champion.
The winner’s purse was $10,800 in the $60,000 total prize money championship and our Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort Pro Shop employee derived other huge benefits.
“Obviously being the biggest trainee tournament in the world it was a privilege to win it and what comes with it - a start in the Australia Open in Sydney this year (late November) and the Australian PGA next year,” he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
“It’s going to be unreal being co-sanctioned by the European Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia. I have always wanted to play on Tour and the PGA Traineeship is just a different pathway to getting there.”
Frazer was in good form leading into the National Futures Championship being joint winner of the Northern Golf Club Pro Am in Melbourne the previous weekend with a three-under-par score. But what a year it has been to date.
Frazer has already won 10 times this year and finished high up on eight other occasions. There have only been two national trainee events this year - the other at Rich River Echuca in February - and Frazer’s won both.
“His playing average is basically number one in Australia on the Victorian Order of Merit,” proud Dad and coach Evan Droop told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
“He is leading trainee professional in Victoria this year and is the leading trainee professional in Australia.
“It’s just an unbelievable effort, for a person in his first year - he only started his traineeship in January this year. There were trainees in their third year.”
At Ballarat, the eventual winner started in glorious fashion, finishing with a five-under-par to lead the strong field by one.
After second and third rounds of 71 and 72 to be six under, Frazer entered the fourth day three strokes in front.
It was a shaky start to the final round on the relatively new links style, heavily bunkered course on the west of the city for Frazer who was two over after three holes.
“I was pretty patient all day and hung in there and had a really good putt on 17, a 40-footer which was the highlight of my day.”
His tee shot on that Par 3, some 140 metres, was a little strong, leaving him on the top tier with that 40-footer down to the hole. But his wonderful putt found its target and meant Frazer regained his three-stroke-lead going into the penultimate hole and finish the round one-over-par 73, for an overall five-under-par total of 283.
“To come out on top after four really tough days is a really good feeling,” he said. “It was tough out there, long thick grass off the fairways and strong wind but everyone had to play in the tough conditions.”
Playing partner, third year trainee Robbie Hogan of NSW finished second. In third place on one-under-par was England’s Matthew Fieldsend, the 2017 PGA of Great Britain and Ireland Assistant Champion.
Along with caddie Brad MacGill from Berwick, Frazer had other close supporters. His Nan and Pop (Pauline and John Tresize) and Mum, Rochelle, made the four-hour trip from Mulwala to see Frazer in action for the last two days.
And for that wonderful last day, his sister Celeste and Dad stepped onto Ballarat’s landscape of native and exotic vegetation, and extensive ornamental waterways, 6283m golf course.
“It’s always nice to have family out there following me and when I come out on top it feels a whole lot better to have family there,” Frazer said.
He paid special tribute to the local Pro Shop boss. “Dad’s always been there for me with my golf, since I was a little tacker,” he commented about his coach. “When I have a problem, he fixes it.
“I also want to thank the Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort and the members for their support.”