HE’S hardly been on the course this year, however, Matt Walz managed to comfortably retain his Taree Golf Club championship.
Walz, 34, has now won four consecutive titles. He is the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week, earning a $50 open order at Iguana.
Walz was one off the pace following the first round however, he moved to nine shots clear after the second. It was as good as over after the third round when Walz increased his lead to 12 shots and improved this by three in the last.
“I really wasn’t sure how I’d go this year,’’ Walz admitted.
“I think I’ve only played about three games all year. I work every second weekend and I’ve also got a lot of stuff on, so I just don’t get the time.
“I played a couple games of pennants and in the mixed foursomes, but that’s about all.’’
However, about two months ago Walz had a session with his coach, the Wauchope-based Neil Ulmer, and that proved to be his final preparation for the title defence.
“I’ve been working with him for a few years now,’’ Walz said.
“Anytime I think I need a tune up I go and see him and he looks at my swing and tells me where I need to be. We’re lucky to have someone like Neil on the Mid North Coast.’’
Walz said he was confident he was well-placed after his solid first round.
“Things just came together from there,’’ he said.
So-much-so that he didn’t feel any additional pressure going into the last round.
“No, I felt pretty good,’’ he said.
Walz said he’s now eyeing off Peter Doherty’s record of eight championships wins at Taree.
“I guess that’s something I’ll be aiming for,’’ he said.
“I’m halfway there now although I suppose it doesn't really matter how long it takes.’’
Walz isn’t sure what his current handicap is.
“I think it’s one or two. I haven’t really looked for a while,’’ he said.
He was almost down to +1 a couple of years ago, but he was playing more regularly back then.
Walz took time to find his groove in the game. He has his first lessons with the late Noel Halpin, then the club pro at Taree. He later moved to a coach based at South West Rocks and that’s when his golf started to kick on.
“I think I went from (handicap) 20 or 18 to one or two,’’ he recalled.
Walz maintains the short game is all-important in golf.
“You can hit the ball badly and still chip or putt well and get out of trouble,’’ he reasons.
However, his golf will be further curtailed from Monday when he undergoes a third hernia operation.
“I’ve been told I won’t be swinging a club for six weeks to two months,’’ he said.
“With everything else going on, I have no idea when I’ll get the chance to have another game.’’