By Robert Muir
PGA Tour of Australasia and European Senior Tour’s Peter Fowler is the big new drawcard for the 2018 BMW Shepparton Senior Victorian Open Championship here from Wednesday, January 31 to Friday, February 2.
The 58-year-old Queenslander, popularly known as ‘Chook’, won the Australian Open in 1983 and has 18 professional victories. The 191 cm tall (6’4”) is sure to be a crowd favourite at our two wonderful golf clubs.
“We have a cracking line-up,” tournament director James McCully told the Yarrawonga Chronicle. “Peter Fowler is our big ‘in’ this year. I expect he and (fellow Queenslander) Peter Senior to go head-to-head.”
A full field is in place for the three-day tournament, starting at Black Bull Silverwoods on the Wednesday, with Rounds 2 and 3 on Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club’s Resort Murray Course Thursday and Lake Course Friday - as per the highly successful two events in 2016 and 2017.
“It’s obviously fantastic we have other big names returning in Mike Harwood, Terry Price, Ossie Moore, 2016 winner Lucien Tinkler and current Order of Merit leader Brad Burns from Queensland,” Mr McCully said.
“Steve Conroy, who has had great success on the Japan Tour, will be back. “We have a full field, wonderful continuing support from BMW Shepparton and we have more sponsors this year which are all greatly appreciated.
“There will be 75 professionals and 15 elite amateurs for a total of 90 competing for the Peter Thomson BMW Shepparton Senior Victorian Open - the last tournament to have Peter’s name on it. The total overall field for the first two days with the Pro Am will be 160 players.”
Last year’s winner, the well known Peter Senior, continues playing great golf and is currently third on the European Tour of Order Merit. He fired a superb 11 under par to win here last year.
David Robb, 65, from Corowa Golf Club will take to the fairways to defend his amateur title.
“I encourage locals to get along and see brilliant golf over three days at Black Bull, and Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort,” the local tournament director said.
PGA Tournament Director Any Rogers said every senior professional golfer is looking forward to the BMW Shepparton Senior Victorian Open which will have a total prize purse of $40,000.
“I know they all enjoy the great layouts and superb conditions of the two courses,” he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
“Unfortunately Roger Davis can’t make it because of family illness but what a great line-up it will be, and Peter Fowler has now entered.
“The players have really appreciated everything about this tournament and it will be some spectacle again for local golfing fans.”
Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Hogg referred to the popular tournament’s success from a local commercial point of view.
“How good is this tournament for our town directly?” he asked. “People staying and moving around town for a few days or week promotes us as a place of destination.
“People go away and say ‘what a lovely town this is’. This tournament gets people up here and they want to come back.”
It’s not solely the golfers participating in the BMW Shepparton Senior Victorian Open who help benefit the two towns. “There are also the corporate people with some 18 corporate parties with their agents,” Mr Hogg said.
“Overall, it’s a great tournament with the best senior professional players in Australia and some excellent elite amateurs.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase Yarrawonga/Mulwala and we encourage locals to come and witness these great golfers who also have you in fits of laughter at the Sportsman’s Dinner.”
Excellent off-course program
The off-the-course program will be the same as last year: a 6.30pm welcome cocktail function at Black Bull Tuesday, January 30; a Sportsman’s Dinner Thursday night at Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort: the big presentations Friday afternoon.
During the welcome cocktail function, the approximate 100-yard shoot-out to a wine barrel will take place with the winner walking away with $1,000 in prize money will again take place.
Two big-name celebrities will be there at Silverwoods - Australian Test cricketer Merv Hughes and Hawthorn football legend Michael Tuck - and champion Richmond full-back Alex Rance may be an attendee. Star X Factor singer Sam Ludemen will return to provide more entertainment at the welcome function.
For the past two years, this tournament, on our doorstep, has won best Victorian tournament of the year. You can see the golf for free and from numerous vantage points on the three 18-hole courses.
* Golfing fans are advised to book early for the popular Thursday night $75 per head Sportsman’s Dinner. Tickets can be purchased from the Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort reception (57441911).