Champions shoot for fifth victory
Defending champions Brock Wooldridge and Roy Howard will be chasing their fifth victory in the Bundaberg Golf Club's time-honoured Wide Bay Australia Ltd Burnett Cup when the event starts on January 29.
Club captain Geoff Loveday said this popular annual event was initiated in 1971 by then president Barry Blackadder to promote larger fields in the early months of the year, when fields were traditionally small because of the wet and hot conditions.
Now in its 41st year, the event will run through to the final on Saturday, March 3. Loveday said it had always been played as a four-ball handicap match-play, with losers of the first round going into a plate event.
"The cup was initially sponsored by local Shell agents Ray Grunske, and then Bevan McGarvey until 1988, when Ron Hancock took over sponsorship in the name of Wide Bay Capricorn Building Society," Loveday said.
"This sponsorship continues today in the name of Wide Bay Australia Ltd.
"The plate was initially known as the Patron's Plate, with various sponsors until 1991, when Peter and Jan Hitchcock took over, and with Peter's tragic death back in 2009, it is now the Peter Hitchcock Memorial Plate.
"With the continued support of these two sponsors, the prize pool has now reached $5000, making the cup the richest event of its type in the Wide Bay region, with prizes going down to the cup quarter-finals and plate semi-finalists," he said.
The cup winners will receive $1000 each in prizes.
Wooldridge and Howard will be hoping to add to their hat-trick of titles from 2002-04 and last year, and move to within two victories of Jason Beeston as the most successful players in the event's history.
"With the cup being a handicap event, winning is open to all, which has been highlighted in the past four years with wins by C-graders Bill Davis and Dave Hardy in 2007, and Rod Mason (A) with Ken Silcox (B) in 2008," Loveday said yesterday.
"C-grader Bruce Tree and Ray Austin (A) won in 2009, John Menyweather (B) and Bryce Pereka (C) in 2010, and Brock and Roy were A and B-grade respectively."
With the popularity of the men's cup, the women ran an equivalent event from 1979-89 and it was re-established in 2008 with the help of sponsors Russell and Sue Chapman, of Rum City Exhaust and Towbar Centre, and Lorraine Schafer and Dave Gordon.
This event continues this year over five weeks from February 5-March 3.
It has a pool of $800, with the winners receiving $350 and a prize run-down to the third round.