Down the fairway: Big season for McKechnie

THIS summer is looming as pivotal in the career of Waratah product Leigh McKechnie.

The touring professional turns 40, he and his partner, Danielle White, are expecting a baby in February and he has another hectic Australian tour program planned.

After failing to earn any entries for the OneAsia Tour earlier this year, McKechnie has been busy this winter refining his swing with Belmont’s Gavin Sutherland and experimenting with new clubs designed by Gary Tozer.

Those changes will be further trialled at several pro-ams in Brisbane before McKechnie travels across the Nullarbor for the WA Open Invitational (October 10-13) and Perth International (October 17-20).

But a second NSW Open victory and a strong performance at the Australian Open are McKechnie’s main aims.

“I’m running 30th in the order of merit now, so if I can stay in touch of that top 30 by end of the Aussie Open that will give me some opportunities for next year and another shot at an overseas tour school next year,” he said.

“The body is holding up at the moment, so I’ll keep playing until I start feeling too much of the drag or I lose interest, but I still have plenty of fire in the belly.”

■ Denman captain John Bancroft and Aberdeen’s Julie Berick will represent the Hunter River district for the first time tomorrow when they contest the NSW Mixed Fourball Championships final.

The pair won the district final at Singleton and had their first look at the Bonville course yesterday.

“We’re here to enjoy ourselves, not get too stressed and perform at our best for the district,” Bancroft said.

Newcastle’s representatives are Noel and Denise Atkinson, from Horizons.

■ Waratah’s big names have plenty to do after round one of the club championship on Saturday.

Tournament favourite and pennants captain Greg McMillan carded seven-over 78 and leading junior Luke Morrison also struggled with 75.

Scratch-marker Grant Cooper is leading with two-under 69, followed by three-marker Graham Atkinson (70) and veteran Terry Blomfield (72) and Jason McBeath (72).

■ Tracey McCloy will make her debut at the traditional Lady Mayoress Bowl on Friday at Merewether Golf Club.

Lord mayor Jeff McCloy, Tracey’s husband, came to power last September ending John Tate’s 13-year reign.

Tate’s wife, Cathy, was a staunch supporter of the Merewether ladies event.

Limited entries are still available for the fourball.

■ Entries are open for this Sunday’s Oc Colley Cup, the Newcastle District Golf Association championships for B and C-graders. B-grade will be held at Charlestown and C- grade at Shortland Waters.

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