Teen tyro’s near miss for $100k after ditching school
Billy Dowling waved off Year 11 English to teach seasoned pros a lesson at just 15 in a remarkable effort on Thursday at the Queensland Open.
But as young as Dowling is, he was turning to caddie Alfie Ward for all the wisdom of his 13 years during his excellent even-par round of 72 at Pelican Waters outside Caloundra.
It's hard to imagine there has ever been a younger player-caddie duo on course in a professional tournament in Australia.
"I missed English at school but mum rang up and said I was playing a professional golf tournament instead," the slight 48kg Dowling said.
"I'm probably the shortest hitter out here so I had to use my short game. I'm really happy with that round (with three birdies)."
Dowling is from the same Helensvale State High that produced US Open tennis champion Sam Stosur and Olympic hurdling golden girl Sally Pearson.
He has been playing off scratch or better at Surfers Paradise Golf Club since he was 13.
He chomped into a hot dog and sauce at the end of his round as all kid golfers do.
Alfie paid his way on the par three 15th when he helped settle on a six iron for Billy.
"It was on line all the way. I thought it was going in and it finished up less than a foot from the hole so it was really good," Billy said.
"Thanks to Alfie. A hot dog for the caddie is about right."
Alfie, who plays off one at Pelican Waters, added: "And that was the $100,000 hole. Billy played awesome, stumped every shot."
Actually, it's only a six-figure, life-changing $100,000 from sponsor Palm Lake Resort for an ace on Saturday or Sunday.
The youngsters knew each other from junior events so when Billy qualified on Monday it was quickly organised that he stay with the Wards near the course.
"It's wonderful...putting mat competitions outside the spare room at night, golf talk, Weet-Bix in the morning and out to the course," mother Alison Ward said.
As to the putting mat bragging rights: "I won the first night and lost Thursday morning...it's a draw so far but we'll play some more."
Dowling was sitting in the top half of the 132-strong field with players still to finish their opening rounds.
Nearly half the field will have to finish their first rounds on Friday morning after a near-three hour suspension of play because a hectic morning storm drenched the course.
Victorian Andrew Martin, Queensland veteran Michael Wright, Newcastle's Blake Windred and 2015 Queensland Open champion David Bransdon were in with five-under 67s as leaders while defending champion Anthony Quayle had a calm 68.
Originally published as Teen tyro's near miss for $100k after ditching school
Really big effort from 15 y/o Billy Dowling in Rd 1 of the QLD Open on the @PGAofAustralia today to shoot 72 (E). Watched him come through the Adidas Junior 6s last year and so impressed with his maturity. Love seeing these young guns gain experience in pro tournaments. pic.twitter.com/z284XzOC5O— Ewan Porter (@ewanports) March 11, 2021