A three-way tie at the top has guaranteed a thrilling Saturday finish to the All Abilities Championship at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open where Ireland’s Brendan Lawlor is chasing the crown.
Lawlor regards the event so highly he considers it a “major” for All Abilities golfers and the No.1 tournament in his schedule each year. There is the potential for the tightest finish in the event’s short history over the final 18 holes of the 54-hole event at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney on Saturday.
All eyes may be on the 36-hole leaders Cameron Pollard (69-74), Lawlor (73-70) and Lachlan Wood (71-72) but no one is ignoring the proven winner three shots off the lead in fifth. Englishman Kipp Popert made up a bigger margin to win in Melbourne last year and had three birdies in his improved second round 71 on Friday.
For Lawlor, he hopes to be coming back to the Australian All Abilities Championship for years to come. As a champion, it will make it all the better.
“I feel this is like a major for us. It’s where it all started,” Lawlor said. “It’s a fully inclusive event played at the very same time as the main guys, we have full access to player lounges, practice rounds, whatever we want.
“When it is tagged as all inclusive, that’s what it is. It’ll be a joy for me to come back here. Hopefully, I’ll be coming back here in 20 years playing All Abilities if I can.”
Lawlor’s second round wobbled with three early bogeys when his group started from the 10th tee. He could take pride in rallying with back-to-back birdies at holes five and six. He found two more to card a one-under 70 to sit in the co-lead at one-over.
“I stayed pretty calm which was a key thing. Usually when I make a bogey or two it derails me but my caddie helped me out there,” Lawlor said.
“Everything was really steady. I’m not going to fall into the trap of matchplay against the two other guys in the leading group because there are other good players close as well.
“It’s going to be nice to go out and showcase this beautiful sport. It’s something about Australia and Aussie fans that gets you going as well. I’m a person who gets motivated by the crowd and the claps and stuff.”
Australian Pollard overcame a triple bogey blemish on the 17th to post his 74.
“I haven’t played my best in this event in previous years so I’m pleased for it to finally come together,” Pollard said.
Pollard said keeping a level mood was all-important for good golf.
“I didn’t really want to let that triple get to me. I can get upset with myself but I kept my mood level. My caddie and I just play silly games out there between holes to distract ourselves and keep it fun.”