The contests shaped up as thrillers, but in the end, they became processions as Andrew Tharle and Nadene Gole claimed the Men’s and Women’s NSW Senior Amateur crowns for 2023.
For Tharle, in his very first attempt it was a maiden NSW Senior Championship. It was also Gole’s first, but only after coming oh-so-close in the very same tournament at Tuncurry in November last year.
The men’s division could have been anyone’s as the day began with Tharle holding a slender two shot lead. The women’s it was always going to be a coin-toss between the eventual winner, Gole from Victoria and Wyong’s Louise Mullard.
At the end of the day, though, the contests took very different paths.
With a shaky bogey at the first the best that Tharle could manage to begin his round, followers could have been mistaken for thinking the Men’s title was anyone’s to seize.
Final Scores Men’s Nett
Final Scores Women’s Nett
Sadly, that was about as far as any thought of a challenge would go, with the Royal Canberra gun ripping the Links Shell Cove layout apart over the next 17 holes.
Birdies at the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, and 13th saw Tharle out to a commanding lead. When he eagled the reachable par-four 14th to get to five under for the day – and out to a nine-shot lead, the contest was well and truly finished.
Not done, the 51-year-old added a little icing to the top of his celebration cake with a fitting two-putt birdie on the final hole to cap an incredible ten-shot win.
“I had started with a bogey down the first and did get a bit nervous after that, but get back with a couple of birdies from there.
“I was solid after that, I don’t think I dropped a shot from there, so it was really good.
“I holed my second shot on the 15th for an eagle, and that really helped the nerves. It’s so easy to be nervous out there,” Tharle said after his win.
Asked about whether he thought the result was going to be as one-sided as it appeared. Tharle admitted he was surprised it blew out as far as it did.
“Not at all. There’s a lot of good players here, plus the defending champion as well. I just had one of those days – the stars aligned.”
The women’s championship by contrast was an arm wrestle for much of the round, with the two runway leaders not giving each other an inch until the turn. Even then, it was the 2020 Champion, Mullard, who looked like she had the edge with a slender lead.
That was, of course, until the 13th, when the contest was flipped on its head.
With a small lead, somehow Mullard managed to make a meal of the short par-four 13th knocking into the penalty area and failing to recover, eventually marking down a triple bogey.
Gole in contrast played safe and made a timely par. With the momentum swinging her way, Gole seized her chance with back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th to get out to an unlikely three-shot lead.
Despite a birdie on the 16th, a rattled Mullard had no answer. When she rinsed her approach on the last and was only to make a double-bogey, the title was Gole’s by an incredible six shots.
“I was a little bit nervous to start off with, and I don’t know why I should have been,” a relieved Gole grinned.
“I just thought to myself, hang on, just play golf, and I did.”
Asked about the incredible turnaround late on the back nine, Gole said it was simply an opportunity she knew she needed to grab.
“Louise was inside of me on the 12th and used my read to hole a birdie, but unfortunately found the water on the next, and then I had a couple of quick birdies.”
“So I had a couple of shots to probably two or three feet so I got up and down on the 16th coming to the last and not really knowing exactly where she stood.”
Gole admitted to taking a very different approach to the hole than she had in her last couple of attempts.
“I played the last hole very conservatively not knowing the situation but hadn’t played it well a week.”
As it stood, a par was way more than she needed to come up trumps, with the winning margin at the end an incredible six shots.
Gole said the victory was especially significant given that she had spent much of her formative years playing alongside Mullard, and last year’s Champ, Sue Wooster.
“I came here last year for the first time, and I played with Lou and Sue in the last round, and I was so impressed.
“We played together in Europe and a little bit on the Asian Tour.
I’m thrilled to win the NSW Senior Amateur. It’s a great place to come and play golf, and we have always been made to feel very welcome.”