Anthony Quayle is so eager to recreate the winning vibes of last year’s Isuzu Queensland Open that he’s coaxed his caddie-coach to walk Thursday’s opening round with a dodgy back.
Veteran coach Ken Berndt isn’t even required to carry Quayle’s bag. Quayle will do the wheeling as long as “KB” is walking beside him.
“KB was such an important part of my win last year with the way he helped compose me on the final holes,” Quayle said.
“He wants to be out there, bad back and all, but I’ll look after the bag. He might not last the four rounds so he’s just going to walk with me.”
Being back at Pelican Waters Golf Club, outside Caloundra, has flooded Quayle’s senses with positivity.
It was the scene of his first professional win and the first time he’d closed the deal in a play-off after six near-miss top three finishes earlier in his career.
He’ll get the chance to post a solid first round score before the traditional afternoon winds get up at Pelican Waters because he’s off at 7.20am (AEST) with Australian women’s amateur champion Grace Kim and Victorian Matt Griffin.
“As soon as I drive through the gates I get some of the good vibes of last year,” Quayle said with a smile.
“It reminds you of the form you were in, the way you were hitting the ball and what you were thinking about.
“I’m pretty excited and hope to defend this week.”
Quayle missed the cut at The Players Series Sydney last week when his driver misbehaved so he’s spent time with Berndt to iron out that kink.
“I haven’t played that well over the past few weeks but I’ve done some good work with my coach so I’m excited to put that to the test,” Quayle said.
“As soon as I drive through the gates I get some of the good vibes of last year. It reminds you of the form you were in, the way you were hitting the ball and what you were thinking about." – Anthony Quayle
“We’ve addressed the driving to make it more of the asset it normally is rather than a hindrance.
“If you drive it well around this course you can score really well but three eagles back-to-back-to-back...I’m not sure I’ll ever see that again.”
Quayle was referencing the astonishing four-eagle 61 of Andrew Martin when the journeyman pro won in startling style at Bonnie Doon last Sunday.
Quayle dug deeper on all he learnt on that tense Sunday last year when he led by three strokes, tripped with a double bogey and had to make a clutch par from the bunker, just to make the play-off, when he was on a downslope with a root behind the ball.
“KB told me I could still win it from here (after the double-bogey). We set a new strategy and the next few holes were a better stretch than I played anywhere else in the tournament," Quayle said.
“It proved you can always find more if you dig down and don’t ever count yourself out.”
Quayle won on 15-under-par last year, from South Australia’s Jack Thompson, but figures the field will go lower this week.
“You could still trick up the course with pin placements on slopes and behind bunkers but, from what I’ve seen, I’m predicting closer to 20-under this week,” Quayle said.
The course’s condition has been transformed over the past five weeks through the hard work of greens staff and volunteers.
“We’ve come out of COVID and the willingness of all to help get the course up to a high level for a tournament has been tremendous,” Pelican Waters Golf Operations Manager Dale Williamson said.
“We’ve had mower men volunteers, members helping clear undergrowth and tidy paths...the effort has made a huge difference.”
Jed Morgan, last year’s Australian Amateur champion, said the tournament was wide open when asked if he was in-form.
“I don’t think of golf that way ... you make form. That’s my thinking anyway,” said Morgan, who is one of a host of top amateurs in the field.
Top image: PGA of Australia