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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 250
G ROWING up on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, a young Ian Baker- Finch would often practise until dark at the Caloundra Golf Club practice green with imaginary putts to win The Open Championship. He had his first opportunity to realise that boyhood dream in 1984 when, as a 23-year-old, he led the championship into the final round at St Andrews. A closing round of 79, however, saw him slip well down the leaderboard. Six years later, again at St Andrews, he played in the final pairing on Sunday with Nick Faldo, who held a five-stroke lead. The Queenslander posted a one-over 73 to finish 11-under and seven behind the runaway champion Faldo. In 1991, The Open moved to Royal Birkdale and midway through the championship Baker- Finch was just four shots off the lead after solid rounds of 71-71. This time he was ready to win. He set the championship alight on Saturday with a new course record 6-under-par 64, which saw him grab a share of the 54-hole lead with American Mark O’Meara. There were no nervous final round fumbles this time from Baker-Finch. Five birdies in his opening seven holes and the official Royal & Ancient engraver had every right to get his equipment ready. Baker-Finch reached the turn in 29 and had seen off the challenge from O’Meara, but fellow Australian Mike Harwood – who held the halfway lead – was making his run. Baker-Finch held his nerve. The Queenslander could even afford a bogey at the last for a 4-under 66 and a two-stroke victory over Harwood. O’Meara and countryman Fred Couples were a further stroke back. “In 1984, I was just a kid with starry eyes having a great time. The Open Championship was the start to my career. People got to know my name. Despite what happened, I couldn’t wait to get back,” Baker-Finch said after his win. “Last year, I was a bigger kid and learned a lot from the guy who won, Nick Faldo. I have improved since then and I have a lot to thank Nick for. “The Open Championship is, to me, the most special event in my life. Just to play in it is a great thrill and to do well if fantastic. But to win it is a dream.” E it happened this week in... 1991 • Nearly 15,000 tonnes of crude oil spills into the Indian Ocean off the West Australian coast after the Greek tanker, Kirki, sinks in high seas. • The Wallabies demolish Wales 63-6 in a one- off rugby Test at Brisbane’s Ballymore. In all, the Aussies scored 12 tries to nil. • Jenny Sevil fires an even par 72 to win the Appi Kogen Ladies Cup on the Japanese LPGA. Also making news this week in 1991 FINCHY’S DREAM RUN VIDEO: FLASHBACK TO FINCHY’S RECORD RUN WORDS BY BRENDAN JAMES
GA Express 249
GA Express 251