Starts alongside Australian golf’s biggest stars and the richest prize purse for an Associate or Trainee tournament anywhere in the world go on the line at the PGA Associate National Championship at Rich River Golf Club starting December 7.
Second-year Associate at Cobram-Barooga Golf Club Steffanie Vogel and first-year Associate at Rich River Cooper Gentle will carry the hopes of the Murray River golf community with male and female PGA Associates vying for a share of the $60,000 in prizemoney off respective tees.
Formerly known as the Futures National Championship, the PGA Associate National Championship will be contested from December 7-10 and is the first to be held since the 2019 championship at Ballarat Golf Club.
And the rewards are significant.
The winner of the event will gain entry into either the Australian PGA Championship or Australian WPGA Championship at Royal Queensland in January, teeing it up alongside the likes of Min Woo Lee, Geoff Ogilvy and Hannah Green.
Irrespective of the winner, the highest ranked female PGA Associate (that makes the cut) will also gain a start through a WPGA category in a Webex Players Series event in 2022.
“As a part of our ongoing collaboration with the PGA of Australia, the WPGA Tour is delighted to be able to offer the highest placed female at the 2021 PGA Associate National Championship an invitation to compete in the Webex Players Series Sydney which will be held at Bonnie Doon Golf Club from the 3rd-6th of March 2022,” said WPGA Tour CEO Karen Lunn.
“In addition, should the winner of the 2021 PGA Associate National Championship be a female, we will also offer them an invitation to compete in the inaugural Australian WPGA Championship, to be held concurrently with the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland Golf Club from the 13th-16th January 2022.”
Host to the Rich River Trainee Classic for 33 years straight, Rich River Golf Club CEO Shane Gloury said the club was delighted to bring tournament golf back to the club.
“The Rich River Golf Club is thrilled that we’re able host the 2021 PGA Associate National Championship,” said Mr Gloury.
“We are proud of the long history we’ve had hosting the Rich River Trainee Classic for the past 33 years and can’t wait to continue that support through the National Championship.
“After a challenging 18 months, our members and community can’t wait to see Professional golf back at Rich River Golf Club.”
Despite various border restrictions, around 100 Associates are expected to take part in the championship with a number of players bringing strong credentials to the tournament.
Year 3 PGA Associate Brayden Petersen (pictured) from Kurri Golf Club in Newcastle has twice won at Rich River while Victorian PGA Associate Champion Lachlan Aylen (Eynesbury Golf Club) also boasts strong form in the region, his Victorian win coming at Tocumwal Golf Club by an impressive five strokes.
Leading after three rounds of the 2020 Rich River Classic, Steffanie Vogel was runner-up to Aylen in May and is considered a strong chance while Cooper Gentle will use the knowledge of playing on his home course to enhance his hopes.