Pennant: Commonwealth complete Division 1 triple crown

2017 Pennant Finals - Mens Division 1

Commonwealth has taken out an unprecedented Division 1 Pennant Triple Crown by winning the Women’s, Men’s and Colts Pennant finals played at the Keysborough Golf Club on Sunday 21 May.

On a pleasant Melbourne autumn day with regular sunshine, clear skies but with a gusting northerly wind making scoring difficult, Commonwealth won the Colts title over Woodlands 3.5-1.5; the Women’s title 5-2 and the Men’s title 4-3. The latter effort being the club’s third Division 1 Men’s title in four years.  

In the finale to the 118th Golf Victoria Pennant season, it was Commonwealth’s strong top order that ultimately sealed the Men’s victory after The National got off to a great start courtesy of its experienced line-up. No. 7 Andrew Villinger defeated Commonwealth’s Garry Sluce 5&3 before Commonwealth’s No.6 Mitchell Venables levelled proceedings after overcoming Liam Reaper 2&1.

The final looked to then swing in The National’s favour after Clay Nicholls and Tom Bayliss scored respective 2&1 wins over Commonwealth opponents Liam Gransden and Tom Couling before the Oakleigh club’s star players came to the rescue.

Rookie professional and former Victorian State player Frazer Droop defeated National No. 3 Tom Limon 7&6 while 2014 Victorian Amateur Champion Zach Murray again displayed his exceptional talent in defeating 2012 Australian PGA Champion and National No.2 player, Daniel Popovic 6&5.

It was left to fellow Victorian State player and current Australian Junior Amateur Champion, Cameron John to close proceedings for Commonwealth with a 4&2 win over National No. 1 and professional Mitchell Brown to secure the club’s 14th Division 1 title since the competition began in 1899.

2017 Pennant Finals - Womens Division 1

In the 2017 Division 1 Women’s final, Commonwealth atoned for the defeat in last year’s final to Victoria by accounting for its rival 5-2 who were unfortunately missing Victorian State player Stephanie Bunque due to illness.

The final ebbed and flowed throughout the afternoon before Commonwealth secured the early advantage with wins to Kim Kennedy and Kai Shipp over respective Victoria opponents Jesika Clark and Lillie Callow.

Bonnie Chignell and Nasya Sohail squared things off for Victoria by responding with hard fought wins over Commonwealth’s No. 5, Ellen Pollock and No. 6, Sheradyn Johnson by the respective margins of 2&1 and 1-up.

Commonwealth No.2 Joanna Flaherty then landed the first of the decisive blows in defeating Kono Matsumoto 3&2 in a sound display of par golf from start to finish. Flaherty started with three straight pars to her opponent’s three straight bogeys and despite an immediate fightback from the Victorian Women’s State player with birdies at the fourth and sixth, Flaherty rebuilt the three-hole margin by the ninth and was never to be headed.

With Sue Laird leading Victoria No. 3 Sue Wooster by a hole playing the 18th, it was Commonwealth No. 1 Alexandra Hilliard that sealed the victory with a fantasic bunker shot on the 17th for a 3&1 win over the exquisitely talented Gabriela Ruffels. However, it was a quality display in the final from Hilliard who led from the first hole and was on the card at the match’s end.

Laird capped the result with a 2-up win over Victorian Mid-Amateur Champion Wooster to see Commonwealth reverse the result of the 2016 final.

A total of 23 out of the 48 competing clubs were represented in the 2017 GV Pennant finals across six Men’s divisions, four Women’s divisions and five Colts divisions. As part of Golf Victoria’s ongoing policy of concurrently staging Men’s, Women’s and Colts finals, contests were played at four host venues in Keysborough, Sandhurst, Northern and Sanctuary Lakes Golf Clubs.

The 2017 finals again saw clubs with multiple teams in finals scheduled at the same venue to allow club members to support all competitors. Of the five clubs who had the chance of taking out multiple flags, just the afore-mentioned Commonwealth and Kingston Heath were ultimately successful.

The 2017 Men’s Pennant Finals saw the remaining Divisions won by Southern (Division 2), Heidelberg (Div 3), Eynesbury (Div 4), Riversdale (Div 5) and Box Hill (Div 6). Winners of Women’s Pennant Finals were Kingston Heath (Division 2), Green Acres (Division 3) and Gisborne (Division 4).

In addition to Commonwealth’s Division 1 Colts triumph, the remaining Colts finals were won by Kingston Heath (Division 2), Sanctuary Lakes (Division 3), Keysborough (Division 4) and Eastern (Division 5).  

2017 Pennant Finals - Colts Division 1

Every winning team will have stories to tell in the coming weeks as the victors celebrate the conclusion of Australia’s oldest and arguably best club team competition involving close to 800 players over the eight week season.

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