Status and more on the line at #NSWOpenGolf


They’re playing for the Kel Nagle Cup, but there’s so much more on the line at this week’s Golf Challenge New South Wales Open.

A field of 144 will have many and varied goals as the pinnacle event on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia schedule tees off at Concord, which is hosting the event for a record 13th time.

In fact, the only foregone conclusion is that rejuvenated Queensland veteran Brad Kennedy will hold the Tour’s Order of Merit crown come Sunday night, having built an unassailable lead with wins at the New Zealand Open and TPS Victoria.

But everything else is in play in what has a growing perception of being something of a Tour Championship in this pandemic-riddled season.

A swag of players are playing for their domestic tour cards, some at the top end to be able to play directly on foreign tours and more again for the rights to skip multiple stages at all the major international tours’ qualifying schools.

And there’s also a feeling among the talented wave of youth in Australian golf that this western Sydney showdown might be the tipping point in a generational sense.

One of those desperate to push that progression is the emerging Blake Windred, a proud New South Welshman who considers the Kel Nagle Cup among the trophies he’d most like to hold aloft.

Windred, 23, a member of The Australian in Sydney but a product of Charlestown in Newcastle, has been in good and improving form.

He has finished in the top 10 three times since the tour resumed in January, including being runner-up last start at the Queensland Open.

And some think this week represents a great chance for his breakthrough professional triumph.

“To be honest, that’s what I’ve been feeling every time I’ve been teeing it up lately,” the affable Windred said.

“It’s a state open and I’ve been lucky enough to have been playing at this level for 4-5 years now since towards the end of my amateur days and I’m getting into contention more and more lately.

“I feel like I’m sniffing around the pack a lot more and being there on a Sunday and I just want to make this a recurring thing each week.

“The best players in the world, regardless of tough conditions and courses, that’s just what they do … they’re always there.

“I just want to be up there and make it a habit.”

So, could the young man who holds the record as the event’s youngest ever player – as a 13-year-old qualifier in his home city in 2011 – transfer that into victory?

“I haven’t been able to prove it yet, but I absolutely do have the belief that I will 100 per cent lift an important one,” Windred said.

“I’d love it to be my state Open. It’s a tournament that has always meant a lot to me.

“It’s always so cool having so many family and friends out watching, and I reckon there’ll be a fair few down from `Newy’ (Newcastle) this week, hopefully.

“Hopefully I can give them something to cheer about.”


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