A 15-YEAR-OLD Warrnambool golfer is the toast of the south-west, clinching a breakthrough tournament triumph from seasoned rivals.
Will Mackenzie, an Emmanuel College student, shot 74 in the Shipwreck Coast Golf Classic to emerge victorious at Port Fairy on Sunday.
It followed a solid display at Warrnambool the day prior.
Mackenzie said he was “shocked” to claim the crown.
He put his success down to an absence of bad scores across the weekend.
“I just didn’t have too many bad holes,” Mackenzie told The Standard.
“My short game was pretty good as well and I’ve put some effort into that.
“I didn’t think I was going to win. I’m pretty surprised.”
Mackenzie said playing among quality golfers at Warrnambool had helped his game.
The rising star revealed he was eyeing the Victorian Junior Masters in February.
His female counterpart, Melbourne-based golfer Prue Gifford-Ellis, celebrated her 60th birthday while playing at Warrnambool on Saturday.
She said an “unlucky” weekend – in which she accidentally damaged her car and slashed two tyres – was made better by clinching the crown.
“It’s all better now,” Gifford-Ellis laughed.
“I don;t usually win anything so I’m so pleased to win here.”
Gifford-Ellis, whose home course is wedged among Melbourne’s inner east, said her short game stood up across the weekend.
“I play at a parkland course in Melbourne, but I’ve just come back from three months in Scotland, so I can play a links course okay,” she said.
“It’s beautiful out there though. The weather was fantastic over the weekend. I don’t think you ever totally miss out on the wind.
“It’s a beautiful tournament. It’s not often you can play Warrnambool and Port Fairy, so it was absolutely lovely.”
The first-time Shipwreck Coast Golf Classic competitor shot alongside Portland and Hamilton-based players and said the group were “very supportive”.
She shot 34 twice to lift the crown.
Gifford-Ellis said her usual course, a parkland course sheltered by trees, posed different challenges to Port Fairy and Warrnambool with narrow fairways.
She revealed the test of navigating windswept courses in the south-west inspired her to compete.
Warrnambool teenager Caleb Perry was among the leaders but fell short of defending his handicap crown.