2023 Penrith Golf Club Match Play Championship

MIGHTY MIKE THE NEW MATCH PLAY KING!

Michael Organ produced a short-game masterpiece on Saturday to claim the 2023 Penrith Golf Club Match Play Championship with a gripping 4&3 triumph in the 36-hole final over Chris Lawler.

A beaten finalist last year against two-time champion Dale Turner, Organ displayed a steely resolve to overcome an early deficit and claim his first Match Play title.

It did not come easy. Lawler has a proud history in match play golf and pennant representation, bursting onto the scene 20 years ago to claim the title by bringing down a string of club champions.

On Saturday, it appeared Lawler was headed for a long-awaited repeat when he surged to a 3-up lead through eight holes but by the 11th hole his lead had evaporated. From that point the match became an arm wrestle.
Organ won the 16th hole to go 1-up but Lawler won the 17th and 18th to lead at the main break.
Organ drew level on the 19th, Lawler went back to 1-up at the 21st, before Organ levelled again at the 22nd.

The decisive break came when Organ won three more holes before the turn and added the 29th to be 4-up with six to play.

Lawler birdied the 30th hole and looked set to be back in the hunt at the 31st before Organ delivered the killer blow.

Organ had attacked from the tee all day but too often failed to find the fairway and relied on his stellar recovery play. On the 31st hole his drive looked headed out of bounds but stayed inside the fence. Still, he was deep in the trees and his recovery shot caught timber again and while it rebounded onto the fairway, he was still 100 metres from the green.

Organ hit his third shot to five metres. Lawler’s chip took a bad bounce and settled six metres away and his putt for par feathered the edge of the hole but did not drop. Organ then holed his putt and what had looked like becoming a slender 2-up lead became a 4-up advantage with five holes remaining.

Both players birdied the 32nd hole and squaring pars on the 33rd gave Organ the title.

Mention must be made of Dale Turner’s championship defence, with his winning streak stretching to seven matches since his first appearance in 2021 and he was also the qualifying medallist the last two years.

It took something special to beat Turrner and it was delivered by Organ, who was four under par when he won their semi-final at the 14th hole.

Lawler produced his own fireworks, bringing his semi-final against Ben Clements to a terrific conclusion by birdieing the 15th, 16th and 17th holes.

Matthew Newton delivered a dominant display to win the A-Reserve Grade title, defeating Francois Sidrak 5&3 in the final and closing the match in style with birdies on the 14th and 15th holes.

Newton claimed qualifying medallist honours and dispatched Richard Hoff 8&7 in the first round.

The bad luck story of the championships came in Newton’s semi-final when his opponent Chris Fleming was hit in the head by a ball hit from an adjacent fairway.

The match was all square through seven holes but Fleming had to retire and was taken to hospital for observation. Thankfully, he was given the all clear and was back playing the following day.

Clint Borsato claimed the B Grade title with a strong 4&3 win over Akeke Kavana.

Kavana had steamrolled his way into the final with victories over Shane Hall 7&6 and then Peter Whiteside 5&4.

Borsato advanced with a 6&4 win over David Watkins and then claimed Borsato bragging rights when he defeated his cousin, Michael, 3&2, in the semi-finals.

The C Grade championship was won by Paul Turvey, who defeated John Sprang 4&3 in the final.

Turvey was impressive throughout the championship, defeating Trent Green 3&2 in the first round and taking out top seed Col Barton 5&4 in the semi-finals.

Against Sprang, Turvey was solid from the outset, leading 2-up through nine holes and closing out the match by winning the 14th and 15th holes.

Once again, the Match Play Championship was well supported with more than 90 players nominating for the qualifying rounds and there were no forfeits in the match play rounds for the third straight year since the new format was introduced.

Thanks to the pro shop staff, who successfully integrated the match play contests with each day’s regular competition. Thanks also to the golfers in those regular events who gave the match play contests priority.