If we were conducting a poll to determine Australia’s Nicest Golfer, Ian Baker-Finch and Greg Chalmers would likely meet in the final. But as we put their respective playing records up against each other, only one can advance to the quarter-finals of Australia’s Greatest Golfer.
Now regarded as one of the finest golf analysts in the world through his work with CBS and a member of the PGA of Australia board, Baker-Finch held the 36-hole lead in his first major appearance at the 1984 Open Championship, a championship he would claim in style seven years later at Royal Birkdale.
After starting his career in Europe, Baker-Finch joined the PGA TOUR on a full-time basis ahead of the 1989 season, announcing his arrival in the US with a four-stroke victory at the Southwestern Bell Colonial tournament.
A three-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour – including successive wins in April 1988 – Baker-Finch was a prolific winner on home soil, recording his maiden professional victory at the 1983 New Zealand Open and claiming two of our three major tournaments, the Australian Masters in 1988 and Australian PGA Championship in 1993 where he shot 64 in the final round to force a playoff with Peter Fowler and Kiwi Grant Waite.
The 1993 Australian Amateur champion, Greg Chalmers plotted a similar professional path to that of Baker-Finch and so many who had come before him.
Chalmers joined the pro ranks in 1995 and after finishing tied for third at the Optus Players Championship closed out his rookie year with top-10 finishes at both the Alfred Dunhill Masters and Epson Singapore Open.
The left-hander known affectional as ‘Snake’ climbed to 161st in the world when he claimed the 1997 Australian Players Championship and having won the Challenge Tour’s Tour Championship also that year progressed to the European Tour in 1998.
Chalmers finished 25th on the Order of Merit in his rookie year courtesy of runner-up finishes at the Peugeot Open de Espana and NCR English Open but with the first of two Australian Open titles under his belt that summer, he joined the PGA TOUR in 1999.
It took 386 starts before he earned his first win at the 2016 Barracuda Championship but winning in Australia was never an issue.
Chalmers etched his name onto the Stonehaven Cup for a second time when he claimed the 2011 Australian Open at The Lakes and two weeks later defeated Robert Allenby and Marcus Fraser in a playoff to win the Australian PGA Championship.
It took a final round of 8-under 64 and a marathon seven-hole playoff against Wade Ormsby and Adam Scott but Chalmers won the Joe Kirkwood Cup for a second time in 2014, joining a small group of players to have won Australian golf’s two most prestigious events on multiple occasions.
Career wins: 17
Major wins: 1 (1991 Open Championship)
PGA TOUR wins: 2
European Tour wins: 2
Australasian Tour wins: 10
Australian Open: 2nd (1983)
Australian PGA: Won (1993)
Career wins: 11
PGA TOUR wins: 1
Australasian Tour wins: 5
Australian Open: Won (1998, 2011)
Australian PGA: Won (2011, 2014)