Tony Webeck


IT featured more twists and turns than a Gold Coast rollercoaster, before the Maffra Community Sports Club Pro-Am finished in a four-way tie at Maffra Golf Club.

Wet weather again impacted the Gippsland swing of the adidas PGA Pro-Am Series, but four players dealt with it best last Monday.

Matt Dowling, Finlay Bellingham, Brock Gillard and Ben Paine all posted 4-under 68 to share the victory, all four doing so in a variety of different ways.

It was a breakthrough win to remember, in particular, for Dowling, who turned pro back in 2011.

“Very bizarre. Not how I pictured it,” he said.

“Camping by the first tee in Gippsland, got my first win that way after being a pro for a few years and not even being close.”

It was a timely win too for Paine, who had been struggling for confidence in recent weeks.

“It’s good to be back playing some decent golf when I was pretty close to quitting three weeks ago,” Paine admitted.

Bellingham and Paine were out in the morning wave and had contrasting ends to their round, Bellingham making birdie on 18 while Paine made bogey at each of his final two holes, including a three-putt at the last.

Gillard began his round with a birdie and finished it in the same manner while Dowling was left to thank the stars he slept under the night before for a stroke of good fortune.

Playing the par-4 ninth, Dowling caught such a flyer with his second shot that it hit the Maffra Golf Club clubhouse, which is considered out of bounds.

Thankfully for Dowling, his ball bounced back in bounds into a garden bed from which he was entitled to a free drop.

“I woke up and I was floating. Definitely an interesting night. Massive thunderstorm rolled through at about 4am. Woke up dry, but not ideal,” Dowling said.

“I hit it pretty good but got very, very lucky on the ninth hole. I got a bit of a flyer and got a nice break off the clubhouse into a garden bed and made an up-and-down for a four.

“That calmed me down quite a lot actually because I was getting a bit frustrated but that helped me to keep the mind quiet the rest of the day.”

Brock Gillard: “Definitely had the driver going today, which is probably the difference from my rounds lately. Got the ball in play and the putter was pretty rock solid today too.

“I changed coaches back in May and while there’s been a lot of good stuff it hasn’t shown up on the scorecard but things are moving in the right direction.

Finlay Bellingham: “I birdied the first two par 5s. I was hitting the driver pretty poor – didn’t hit many fairways – but scrapped it around. Holed a few putts and hit my irons really well.

“I made a poor double-bogey followed by a three-putt bogey but brought it home well. Hit a good shot on 16, the par 3, and finished with a birdie on 18.”

Ben Paine: “Coming off yesterday where I bogeyed my last four to have 1-under I was pretty keen to have a good round.

“I played the par 5s pretty well and hit a few close wedge shots coming in.

“Unfortunately I bogeyed my last two again and three-putted the last but all up it was a pretty solid day.”

Sale Golf Club held their pro-am last Tuesday.


T1 Finlay Bellingham 68

T1 Ben Paine 68

T1 Brock Gillard 68

T1 Matt Dowling 68

5 Adam McLean 69