They only handed out two trophies but in truth there were three winners at this past weekend’s WPGA and Australian PGA Championships.
Su Oh and Jed Morgan rightly took home the silverware thanks to their excellent play (though that is underselling the performance of Morgan by some considerable margin) but the third winner was the Royal Queensland course and, by default, us – the viewing public.
There are those who argue the architectural integrity of a tournament venue adds little, if anything, to the entertainment value of the end product in professional golf.
Those people were once again shown to be misguided this past weekend.
Whether dissecting the enthralling battle between Su Oh and Sydney’s Grace Kim over the closing stages of the WPGA or the coronation of Jed Morgan (whose lead was never less than nine strokes), the course played its part in ensuring the golf remained intriguing.
Standout holes like the short par-4 12th and the tiny yet terrifying par-3 17th added interest irrespective of the standing of the players in the tournament.
Add in the devilish pin position at the par-4 13th (which played its part in deciding the outcome of the women’s event) and you had all the ingredients required for compelling tournament golf.
By any measure the play of Morgan was other worldly, but it had one small downside: it robbed the tournament of any competitive interest over the closing stages.
None of the chasing pack were ever going to get near enough to challenge yet there remained plenty to keep the spectator interested thanks to the nature of the course.
The questions asked at the short 12th, in particular, elicited a range of different answers from the field.
Despite the scorecard suggesting the green was within easy reach of the tee, less than half the field made birdie and seven players conspired to drop a shot.
"There are those who argue the architectural integrity of a tournament venue adds little, if anything, to the entertainment value of the end product in professional golf. Those people were once again shown to be misguided this past weekend." - Rod Morri.
Eventual third place finisher Louis Dobbelaar hit a mid-iron off the tee and a full wedge to within six feet to gain a stroke.
Conversely, David Micheluzzi drove within a few yards of the green yet still couldn’t find the putting surface with his next and only managed par.
The 13th proved the turning point in the women’s event courtesy of a pin tucked on a tiny back shelf. It demanded an almost perfect shot to leave a putt from the same level as the flag and few managed it.
Grace Kim’s wedge flew a couple of feet too far and slipped off the back edge of the green. From there, she compounded the error with a chip that didn’t hold the surface and the end result was a six.
In the group behind, Su Oh also missed the green but clear thinking (taking the putter for her next to navigate the steep rise to the green) and a bit of luck (the ball managed to find the cup) all but sealed the tournament.
Tournament golf is at its best when elite players are asked to make pivotal decisions at pivotal moments on pivotal holes, as we saw with the WPGA.
And while there was less influence on the outcome among the men, the golf was no less interesting thanks to the legitimate number of different options players had to tackle the holes.
In a world of predominantly one-dimensional professional golf, Royal Queensland was a refreshing change of pace.
Let’s hope it remains relevant in this power era of the game.