The organisers of The Bushranger Cup would like to take this opportunity to thank:
Sam, Campbell and the team at bwired online solutions fortheir partnership and support with the Bushranger Golf website.
Sam, Jason and all the team from The Golf Clearance Outlet for their generous sponsorship of The Bushranger Cup and contribution to the prize pool.
Denise, Steve, Bridget, Bec and all the team at Heathcote Winery for their support of Bushranger Golf to produce the very popular Bushranger Shiraz and for their generous hospitality at the Champions Dinner on Saturday.
Shane Morris, Brian Davis and Liam Anderson from the Heathcote Golf Club for their help with the bar at the Champions Dinner on Friday and re-setting the pins for us on Saturday evening.
Jody O’Donahue from Molly Mae’s Catering for catering both the Champions' dinners.
Faye Maude from the Heathcote Country Lodge for putting up half the field and supplying two cooked breakfasts.
Marion and Mick from the Heathcote Motor Inn for helping with our accommodations arrangements.
Richard Fellner from Inside Social Golf for his help with promotion, publicity and marketing Bushranger Golf.
Padge & Debbie from Murray River Horse Trails for The Bushranger Cup, the bullets and the inspiration.
Roger Brown from Focal Point Garden Design for his meticulous efforts in preparing the Bushranger Cup trophies.
Sally Pitt of Pitt-Bull Media for her time and skill in creating this program and for her consideration in putting up with a very excited tournament director.
Greetings all and welcome to the 5th Annual Bushranger Cup!
The Round One solo 9 holes commence at 3:00 pm on Friday afternoon on the back nine at The Heathcote Golf Club with a shotgun start from holes 10, 12 & 15.
A Champions Dinner will be held in the clubhouse immediately after golf on Friday evening with pre-dinner drinks at the bar and a gourmet BBQ served from 7:00 pm.
A team meeting will be held in the clubhouse after dinner before retiring for the evening.
The Round Two & Three 2-ball ambrose rounds will commence at 10:00 am Saturday at The Heathcote Golf Club with a shotgun start hitting off from holes 1, 10 & 12. Details of the pairings and tee times will be announced at the team meeting.
A Champions Dinner will be held at Heathcote Winery on Saturday evening. Gents are welcome at the winery from 5:00 pm, are expected by 6:30 pm and dinner will be served from 7:30 pm.
The Round Four 18 holes of 4-ball ambrose will commence at 12:00pm Sunday at The Heathcote Golf Club with a shotgun start from holes 1 & 12.
Giddy-up & enjoy!
Round One: Friday afternoon solo nine holes. We will play the back nine and use a three-tee shotgun start. Competitors need to be at the course by 2:30pm for a pre-round briefing.
Rounds Two & Three: 2-ball ambrose starting just before 10:00 am on Saturday. Competitors need to be at the course by 9:30am for a pre-round briefing. We will use a three-tee shotgun start with five groups playing the back nine in the morning from two tees (10th & 12th) and four groups playing the front nine in the morning from the first tee. After our first nine holes, we will meet briefly in the bar to compare scores. The Heathcote members will tee off from four tees for their Saturday comp at 12:30 and we will follow them on the course for our second nine with five groups from the first tee and four groups from the tenth.
Round Four: 4-ball ambrose from midday on Sunday. Competitors need to be at the course by 11:30am for a pre-round briefing. We will use a two-tee shotgun start with five groups starting on the 1st and four groups starting on the 12th. The 11th and 18th holes share a green in front of the clubhouse, so we will have a grandstand finish with all groups finishing on the same green.
Important: The golf carts we are using are privately owned by members of the Heathcote Golf Club. Individuals have generously offered to hire their carts to me and I have given my word their property will be respected and not damaged or abused in any way. If you treat the golf carts carelessly, you will jeopardise my relationships with my friends and associates at the golf club and my reputation in this community. Hence, please treat the carts with absolute respect, care and consideration. Any stupid behaviour by Bushrangers involving golf carts will result in automatic and immediate disqualification from the Bushranger Cup for the player(s) concerned and their entire team(s). Period. Please have fun all weekend, but do it without so much as a scratch on any golf cart. Thanks for your consideration.
The Kelly Gang - The last and most infamous of all the Bushrangers, Ned’s crusade to secede from the colony and start his own republic fell slightly short of the mark. An expert self-promoter, he always knew the importance of snappy dressing for a photo opportunity.
James Peters (The Mail Carrier) - James Peters (The Mail Carrier) – Came in here last year looking like a lamb to the slaughter in his debut Cup and emerged with a remarkable victory. Looked gone for all money when his driver deserted him on the Sunday and arrived at the 18th tee in the 4-ball still needing to get one drive away under the rodeo rule. With trembling hands, an unsound mind, fear in his heart and a quivering sphincter he addressed the ball alone on the 18th tee. After a day of sclaffs, hooks, skulls, tops and slices, he crunched a monster down the guts to deliver the goods when it mattered most – hence his new politically correct moniker. That massive blow secured victory for his team and left an indelible impression on his Reg Grundies. Alas, this may well be a farewell performance from this robust champion as he is rumoured to be migrating back to his banana-bending homeland later this year.
Form: Has justified his win last year with a commitment to the game in the past 12 months that has seen his handicap plummet, however with his heart already droving to the north, don’t expect to see a repeat of his 2007 heroics.
Richard Thurkle (Lt Dick) - Did the unthinkable last year by winning the Bushranger Cup. Probably shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise given his long history of unpredictable and erratic performances. His ridiculous manner of striking the ball can randomly result in either immeasurable power and accuracy or results that are so disturbing as to be an insult to the laws of physics. Having carried the title of Least Likely to Triumph so manfully and for so long, this experienced campaigner appeared destined to never make good on his bizarre potential and taste the sweet nectar of major championship success. Has declared himself a certainty to do what no other has done before and successfully defend his Bushranger Cup crown. His chances of success will almost certainly be determined by the quality of his opening shot of the championship.
Form: Given his consistently inconsistent performances over a long period, is a safe bet to be bringing up the rear of the field on Sunday arvo and quite possibly heading in the wrong direction altogether.
Andrew Collins (Ace) – The 2007 Champion comes in here this week with a limited preparation but with a reputation for delivering the goods on the big occasions. This big hitter made a strong showing in his debut Cup in 2005 and, after engaging a coach in 2006, took the bikkies last year in impressive style. Has been less than diligent since then and is rumoured to have partied long and hard and to be suffering a considerable premiership hangover. A ferocious competitor on the gaming tables, he frittered away his gambling talent and spent many years in the wilderness playing guitar and consorting with an odd assortment of space cadets. A fiendish character, a completely unscrupulous rogue and a thoroughly worthy Bushranger Cup Champion.
Form: Sits on top of the Bushranger Cup stroke averages with an imposing 66.20, so must be considered half a chance, however his inability to make it to the barriers on time looks certain to sabotage his chances. Will be full of running early in an effort to make up ground but will be lucky to figure in the finish.
Michael Nolan (The Gasometer) – This quiet achiever has sacrificed more than most to be here. Due to an extraordinary scheduling oversight by the Victorian Fly Fishing Association, he was forced to make a Sophie’s Choice this weekend about which event to attend. Naturally, the decision was never in doubt as the Bushranger Cup is unquestionably the most prestigious invitational sporting event, golfing or otherwise, taking place anywhere in the world on the weekend of April 12 & 13, 2008. Little is expected from Gaso in Heathcote as he is sure to be distracted by other events also on this weekend. He is rumoured to have also knocked back invitations to the Moto X World Championships at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, the Drug Aware Pro World Qualifying Series at Surfers Point, Margaret River, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC, the 20th UNIMA Congress and World Puppetry Festival in Perth, the US Masters in Augusta, Georgia and the Pet Fair Pageant at the Orlando Science Centre in Florida where he was to feature his Long Haired Chihuahua The Shabby Lieutenant.
Form: This defending champion had very little to recommend his chances last year and stunned all with his manly come-from-behind effort, however he failed in drug testing with a dangerously low pre-round alcohol level. Will be lucky not to be swabbed this year and should probably be in Florida, as he appears to be making up the numbers here.
The Aaron Sherritt Gang - Aaron Sherritt was the Kelly-sympathiser-turned-double agent who was later murdered by his old mate Joe Byrne for his apparent, but unproven, treachery.
Scott Wilson (Willo) - One of the very special 11 Bushrangers who have attended every Bushranger Cup since the first legendary outing at Cobram-Barooga in 2004. Alas, he is the ONLY one of those 11 who has never won a Bushranger Golf event. Has a vice-like grip now on the dubious mantle of Best-(because-he-is-the-only)-old-school-Bushranger-never-to-win-a-major-or-anything-else-for-that-matter. This is compounded by the fact that he turns up to just about every event on the Shabby Dot Com Tour. A serial place-getter on the golf course, he has come second at just about everything, including coming second, which often puts him third. Has the game to get into contention, but can’t seem to close it out. His golfing record raises serious doubts over the integrity of his victory in the 2005 Victorian Texas Hold ‘Em Championship.
Form: This human abacus never makes a move without knowing the odds so will know better the risk involved in backing himself here. Will once again settle for a comfy chair at the poker table and hope his team-mates can carry his not inconsiderable hide over the line.
Michael Mileo (Seve) - This sophisticated stallion brings a touch of erudite style to the entire proceedings. Well-known for his dapper ensembles and easygoing comportment, he lights up the mounting yard at every event he attends. Expect to see him cruising the fairways in a few snappy rigs, resplendent with colour-coordinated accessories. Will be the first in the queue for a complete set of the new Bushranger Golf caps in three colours and the stunning range of BRG polar fleece beanies available in all the colours of the rainbow. Like his famous Mediterranean namesake, he can certainly golf his ball and has the flair, skill and imagination to get out of any predicament. Harbours keen competitive instincts on both the golf course and the gaming tables and won the 2006 William Buckley Classic in fine style.
Form: A definite player, this erudite and articulate gentleman is to be underestimated at your own risk. Will definitely be in the mix coming down the straight on Sunday.
Richard Fellner (Quigley) - On a crisp clear morning one day in the 1970s in a shady valley near Lake Tahoe, a young boy wandered alone into a glade and saw something glimmering in the tall grass. A golf ball. Pure. White. Virginal. Well, not virginal, but, you know, white. Not a coloured one or anything, like those poxy fluoro orange or yellow ones, or range balls or anything like that. So he picked it up and turned to his dog Long Thin Dick and said, “Hey boy, wow a golf ball. Looks pretty virginal, I mean white, doesn’t it?” L.T. Dick was a Long Haired Chihuahua, and he didn’t say much, because he was stoned a lot of the time. And he couldn’t talk. So that is how it all began – a great torrid love affair between a boy and his dog, I mean virgin, I mean golf ball.
Form: Recently returned from a spiritual pilgrimage to his homeland in a last ditch effort to rediscover his lost game. Legend has it he had an epiphany just a few short weeks ago in golf’s spiritual heartland – Arizona – so is probably worth a few bob each way.
Mick Van Raay (Da King) - A big man with a big heart, a big talent and a big smile is a complete package in a field of great packages. Takes genuine delight in the fortunes of his opponents, especially when they come second to him, as was the case at the inaugural William Buckley Classic in 2006. Unlike his first tournament victory at the 2000 Duzzo, the WBC was a thoroughly deserving win and it transformed him into a genuine golfer. The one time 26 handicapper has improved his game out of sight in the past 18 months and is a much improved golfer than a year ago when his gang foundered on the final day of the Bushranger Cup. Had a win at his first, last and only start at this track with a heroic showing at the Handicap Day in March. Took the course and all its tricks and traps in his giant stride and will be looking to do the same again this weekend. Looks like a massive threat here this week.
Form: This stylish paradigm of charisma will charm the pants of all the fillies in the mounting yard, but once the field jumps he will be looking to make everyone his bitch.
Cash & Company - Martin Cash was known as the polite, gentleman Bushranger. His gang dominated in the 1840s and allegedly escaped Port Arthur in Tasmania by swimming naked to the mainland.
Ian Crotty (Crock Diddy) - Like a good red wine, the Diddio is dry, sophisticated, sometimes complex and always full of flavour. Always makes excellent company on the golf course thank to his wit, perspicacity, observational humour and easy-going nature. Will be riding an emotional high this weekend with the recent news that he has achieved a 14-year ambition of returning his handicap to a single figure. Was a talented junior golfer who ran off the rails, fell in with a bad crowd and was very impressionable. Now he is back and is taking no prisoners. Having set a record of 11 under for the lowest 2-ball ambrose round on his way to victory here in 2005, this year he has set his sights even higher. In his imagination, he claims to have found a way to play the course in 23-under par with no pars or bogies, just birdies, a few eagles and 18 one putts. Has obviously bumped his noggin once too often and has taken some sort of temporary leave of his senses.
Form: A tough and uncompromising competitor, he knows his way to the post and is certainly a danger man here this week.
Richard Mitchell (Saddam) - In 2005, this man single-handedly changed the Bushranger Cup forever. In it first year it had been an enclave of staid and conservative inarticulate types who would rather obfuscate and dilute original thought than encourage freedom of the mind and spirit. It was a divine intervention. He exploded into Tocumwal, and that cosmopolitan epicentre of cultural diversity was never the same. Saddam unleashed his dancing bears on a gang of unsuspecting Bushrangers and lit up proceedings with his ribald antics. Then, while everyone was falling around laughing at the fun they were having, he calmly and brazenly walked away with the title and laughed his arse off all the way home.
Form: Is coming off another spell, has had another limited preparation and has thrown another hoof so looks short of a gallop to trouble some of the more fancied starters this week.
Sebastian Shand (Bastros Bastros Ghali) - Was the glue that held this team together when it nearly disintegrated in the months, weeks and days leading here. With all hope nearly lost and a global shortage of leave passes, he produced a miracle to spring himself free of the suffragettes in the city and get a one-way ticket to golfing, drinking, smoking, gambling, joke-telling, snot-wiping, farting and cloth-touching nirvana. Then, when his co-2005-Championship-winning-team-mates looked ready to jump ship, he pulled the whole shebang back on track by promising that he would let them carry him to victory again. His generosity knows no bounds. Unfortunately, neither does his ball flight and he will be glancing very nervously at the OOB on the left as he stands over his first drive of the tournament on the tenth tee.
Form: has a massive appetite for red wine and this will certainly be his undoing in this paradise where the rivers run with the juices of Cabernet and Shiraz. May never cross the finish line because he doesn’t want to go home.
Dominic Wall (Dom) - One of the golden 11 here who has played in every Bushranger Cup. However, unlike most every other player here, has teed it up on just about every continent in the world. This globe-trotting golfer is also the only person playing this week who has published a best-selling golf instruction book in the past 12 months. This has him at a slight advantage over the rest of the field, who have hardly made it to the driving range, let alone written a book about what to do once you get there. Perhaps his next book should be about how to get off the couch and get to the driving range in the first place. Then he might get some serious competition here. As it is, we may as well give him the trophy on Friday night. Thanks for coming everyone. Now, what’s happening at the Masters?
Form: Nah, just kidding. Book schmook. Is hacking at the mo’ and accepting advice from anyone who reckons they might be able to help. Feel free to give him a few tips about golf, or literature, when you run into him on the practice fairway. Win or lose, he will be signing copies of his tome in the foyer after the show.
The Captain Moonlite Gang - The devious Andrew George Scott, a man with three first names, became the infamous Captain Moonlite when he began robbing banks in the 1870s after throwing in a promising career as a preacher.
Roger Brown (Arbeige) - This big-hitter and prince of chino-packing won this tournament in 2006 and is the reigning Kelly Gang Shootout and William Buckley Classic Champion. As such, he would appear to have a great deal to recommend his chances here, however it seems this powerful and once fertile stallion may have put paid to his chances with the ultimate Baker-Finch. Unlike IBF, who re-tooled his action to try to generate extra length, Arbeige de-actioned his tools to decrease the potency of his man-juice and did some considerable damage to the family trophy cabinet. Snip, snip. Although one of the few to have made it to every Cup, he did a lot of damage at the inaugural event and made a memorable trip to Shepparton Hospital, via Cobram-Barooga hospital, before the first ball had even been struck. Will be thankful the Heathcote Country Lodge is next door to the ambulance station this year.
Form: Is rumoured to have done a lot of track work lately but this gelding somehow manages to appear simultaneously both over-golfed and underdone. Consider for trifectas.
Adam Finlay (Larry) - This charming gent is returning here for his fourth Cup, having played in all but the second edition in 2005. Made his name and nom de plume in 2006 on the Saturday evening with an amazing chip-in for birdie on the 18th in front of a packed gallery that triggered one of the great golfing celebrations of all time and kick-started his team’s march to victory. Is well known for his accommodating liver and annual hirsute contributions with marvellous displays of true Bushranger plumage and, in the right conditions, can also punt with the very best. A sharp wit and keen backer of his team’s chances, he is a relative newcomer to the game with the Bushranger Cup accounting for nearly all his golfing experience.
Form: One of the larger markers in this field, but capable of golfing his ball if he settles into a nice rhythm early. Not without a chance, but probably without a chance.
Nick Honey (The Hominator) - Has attended every Cup and achieved the ultimate by winning the event in 2006. These days he fits very little golf into his robust schedule and comes out of retirement for this event on an annual basis. Loves the cut-and-thrust of the après-thwack activities and takes great pleasure from indulgently basking in the warming glow of repartee among his many mates at this event. Will be right in the thick of the action on the gaming tables for long periods and may even take time out from his social shenanigans to tee up a pill for a hole or two. However, his best work this year is bound to be done with a glass of Beaujolais in his craw, propped up near a cellar engrossed in amusing repartee with mates with this conversation punctuated with interjections of, “Bar keep, more wine!”
Form: Comes in here this year as emotionally prepared as any player in this field to have a massive weekend. Has been set for this for ages and will make the trip comfortably.
Matthew Pitt (Pw Jones) - A local rogue with a track record of perennially talking down his chances and then turning up at the major championships to party, as Apu would say, like everything is on special for $19.99. Won the Shiraz Classic in 1998, the Duzzo in 2000, Jack the Hack in 2005 and this event in 2006. Is certainly in profoundly poor form coming in this week and shouldn’t be anywhere near the action as the field turns for home, but don’t be surprised to see this competitive bugger elbowing and clawing his way through the field in the dash for the line.
Form: Will tell you he has no chance and he won’t be kidding. However, this very special individual will always believe he is capable of finding something special when it is needed most. Sadly, he is thoroughly deluded in this belief this year and has no hope against a field of this quality and playing in a team that is two balls short of an octet.
The Stringybark Creek Freaks - It was at Stringybark Creek in the Wombat Ranges in October 1878 that the brooding confrontation between the Kelly Gang and the police exploded into all-out war. Three police officers lost their lives and the Kelly outbreak lasted for the next 20 months.
Michael David (Mikey Dee) - This powerhouse of entertainment comes in here after a sensational 2007 where he dominated in the Shabby Dot tour majors with barnstorming wins at the Kelly Gang Shootout and the William Buckley Classic and a podium place at the Bushranger Cup. If he wins here this week, he will hold the Triple Crown – the Dee-Slam. He will be the undisputed king of the golfing universe. If he can pull it off, expect to see one of the greatest fist-pumping, cigar-smoking, bar-shouting crazy celebrations of the 21st century. Alas, he won both previous titles with the not inconsiderable assistance of the mighty Arbeige, and a big question mark remains over the quality of the support cast in the team he has hand-picked for this event.
Form: A perennial bridesmaid at this event, has finished on the podium every year, so knows his way to the line, but seems to have a habit of letting someone else cross it first.
Brett Simpson (Simmo) - If this were a form guide on punters who know their way round a form guide, then this modern marvel would feature as a massively unbackable favourite. If reading the form ever becomes an Olympic sport, this pocket rocket will be covered in so much gold we’d have to start calling him Mr Bling. This human abacus is a peerless odds-calculator and an expert in all forms of the punting arts. Also has a Masters degree in having fun and can be relied on to drag a few others along for the ride. Can be trusted to deliver another magnificent performance away from the golf course this week and if you ever need to know who is coming in on the tote in the 6th at the Dapto dogs twilight meet, he is your man.
Form: Is the longest marker here. Can’t really play golf to save himself, and has no wish to save himself anyway. Is a certainty to have a great time all weekend, but is at intergalactic odds to cause the engraver any problems on Sunday evening.
Steve Foxwell (Foxy) - Coming straight off a spell on the Asian Tour with a recent start in Thailand, where he has been fine-tuning his game in preparation for this event. A focused competitor, he will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of victory. He will be the first on the practice fairway and the last to leave. Always prepares himself magnificently and pays great attention to detail. Made his Bushranger Cup debut in 2006 but couldn’t back it up in ‘07. The 24-month spell has him looking fresh as a drunk and stoned daisy. Unfortunately, he is rumoured to have found a good paddock in Thailand so may be in need of a gallop. Fortunately, he can flog the pill when he is on song; but unfortunately, he may lack sufficient touch around the slippery Heathcote greens to push for contention this week.
Form: A complete wildcard. If he finds his range, will shoot the lights out, but may not last the distance. Enjoys the between-round festivities so many need blinkers to keep his mind on the job.
Ross McMahon (Tanner) - First start in a field of this quality but is rumoured to be unfazed by the step up in class. Given the shabby company he is known to consort with, is certainly one to keep an eye on over the weekend. His press agent has been at great pains to point out that he can drink huge amounts of booze with no apparent affect whatsoever, is a wonderful storyteller capable of spinning yarns around the campfire that can amuse even the sternest of battle-weary Bushrangers, and can just as easily pick up the guitar and regale one and all with a barrage of entertainment from his prodigious repertoire. Unfortunately for his team-mates, cannot play golf.
Form: Will get a rude shock when the field settles into a rhythm and he discovers how long and turgid the journey is here. Will be better for the run but will certainly need a spell after this. Making up the numbers.
The Harry Power Gang - Harry Power was the wily old lawbreaker who mentored the young Ned Kelly in the refined bush arts of horse stealing and hiding from the law in the scrub.
Gavan Doran (The Rose of Doran) - Made a massive splash in his debut Cup at Corowa in 2006 with a Shiraz-soaked display that was second-to-none. He left an indelible impression everywhere but on the scoresheet as golf was the last thing on his mind. Since then has made a better fist of things at a couple of William Buckley Classics, but missed this event last year with international commitments on the Asian Tour. Has started taking his golf a good deal more seriously lately with a regular nine holes of a Friday morning laying the foundations for an all-out assault here this week. Has a small penchant for red wine so he may well struggle at this venue. With so much quality Shiraz available in the region, expect to see the famous Rose of Doran make an early appearance this year and linger well into Sunday afternoon.
Form: Will certainly need blinkers on at the very least, and probably a straightjacket too, or even a little sedation between rounds if he is going to stay in any sort of condition to contend.
Neil Hocking (Plonk) - This charming gentleman of the fairways is punching way out of his class this week by lowering his standards to appear in a field of this shabby quality. His comportment and style will raise the tone of the whole affair and bring a touch of class to the proceedings. He has shown up for a couple of William Buckley Classics and hopped on the podium with a respectable third place at his first attempt. Is a wily and experienced campaigner but he is making his first start in a Bushranger Cup this week so may struggle when the pace comes on. A devout worshipper at the altar of the Beaujolais, he is the proud owner of one of the most robust, versatile and well-travelled livers in the field which is propitious given the volume and quality of plonk he will filter through his organs over the next few days.
Form: After years of inconsistency on the course, has made a commitment to the game in the past year and is looking sharper than he has for a long time. A serious contender this week.
Paul Lambe (Lambo) - His one major advantage coming in to this event is that he has one very striking similarity with Greg Norman: they both play just about exactly the same amount of golf these days – bugger all. Otherwise, there is very little to recommend his chances. After showing a few twinkles of form in his first two Cups, he has gone backwards in the last 12 months and is now virtually locked into retirement from the game. Loves his vino and knows a fair bit about it, so his appearance here this week may have a very social focus. If he is late for his tee time, it will be a good bet he has chained himself to a vat of fermenting grapes somewhere in the district and will not be coherent for quite some time.
Form: Has the capacity to play with any size hangover, a skill he will certainly be putting on display again this weekend. Looks underdone.
Ian Pritchard (The Baker) - After toying with the idea of being a golfer for a few years, has taken great leaps in the last 12 months with a concerted campaign that has seen his handicap plummet and his standing in the game go through the roof. After mid-field finishes in his first two Cups in ’06 & ’07, he comes in here as one of the lower markers this year. A confidence player, he is riding a crest of form at present that puts the rest of this shabby field to shame, so comes in here as a genuine threat. A ferocious competitor, he loves the challenge of wringing the very best out of himself on the course and will do what he can to encourage greatness from his comrades.
Form: Is certain to have set himself for this one. Always gets a bit frisky when in the same room as the Bushranger Cup – would dearly love to take it home and bung it up for display in the pool room. A huge chance.
The Canvas Town Mob - A rare city-based mob of Bushrangers who operated in South Melbourne in the 1850s. They would knock off ships at port and then frivolously drink and gamble away their booty.
Warwick Stonehouse (Boo) - Is making another ceremonial appearance here in the mistaken belief that he can add to the myth that is The Boominator. He can’t. This wily and experienced campaigner knows every trick in the book, is a master tactician, crafty course manager, a sublime ball-striker, a solid putter, a Teflon coated PR strategist and bold competitor. Loves nothing more than the cut and thrust of competition, and has proved many times that he has the goods when it matters. Won the inaugural Bushranger Cup with a stirring wire-to-wire victory and is always more than happy to discuss the merits of that performance. However, be careful about asking whether the smaller field in the first Cup takes a little of the sheen off the win, as he does not take kindly to the inference.
Form: Is in the habit of believing his own publicity, which is fair enough as he wrote most of it and, unlike many would-be thrill-seekers, in his case the reality is usually far more bizarre than the myth that has spread in his wake. As always, a very serious contender and, win, lose or draw, always offers his backers value for their entertainment dollar.
David Xu (The Silent Assassin) - Comes in here as one of six debutantes and really has no idea what sort of hell is going to be unleashed around him. His nickname suggests he is capable of doing some damage in his own quiet way, but he will never have encountered anything like 35 marauding and excited Bushrangers steamrolling their way through 40 hours of chaotic mayhem and merry-making. Has been tutored religiously by Noa for months but so far has only learnt how to wax-on and wax-off Nugget’s car. Has a reputation as a short-game master and a snappy iron player when he gets in scoring range. Given his line of work, is also understood to be pretty handy at arranging some good old-fashioned triangulated crossfire.
Form: Will need every trick in his bag this week and probably require a few well-organised assassinations of some of the leading contenders to have any chance.
Steve Noa (Nugget)
Steve Noa (Nugget) - After years of struggling on the secondary Bogus Dot Com Tour, he finally cracked it for his debut at the Bushranger Cup last year and put on an absolute clinic with a super demonstration of scoring ability. In spite of his heroics, his team finished ten shots off the pace, thanks primarily to the lacklustre efforts of his playing partners. Has sought to remedy that by importing one of his protégé’s (see the Assassin below) as a new member of this outfit. Courtesy of his first up effort in 2007, he has a Bradmanesque Bushranger Cup scoring average of 66.00. Although he will be looking to improve on that this year, most pundits agree it was just a jammy weekend for him and he is staring down the barrel of a serious reality check this year.
Form: He can drink, punt and talk trash with the best so will make a strong impression off the course but has hardly touched a club in months so looks unlikely to make much of a dent on the leader board. To figure in the finish, he will probably require some sort of magic Bradbury where the other eight teams all lay down on the 18th fairway on Sunday to gift him the win.
Dean Craig (Deano) - Made his debut at last year’s Cup and put up a very strong showing by posting a scoring average of 67.60 – a figure that ranks him as a potential star of the Bushranger Cup and a genuine threat to take out this championship. His keen strategic mind and powerful course management abilities have helped him take command of the complex and demanding Bushranger Cup format in a way that few newcomers have ever done. Alas, he has had a few minor swing issues of late, has taken on board a little too much advice from his well-meaning colleagues and has got himself in a right mess. These days he is uncertain which elbow goes over which hip and what plane or swing path the club should be travelling along, inside, between, throughout, upside or backhand. This once svelte ball-striker is a now a dithering mess and will be lucky if he is facing the right way when he tees it up on Friday.
Form: A real confidence player who is in massive strife. If he is anywhere near the post at the finish, expect a visit form the stewards and a probing investigation.
The Ben Hall Gang - Originally The Frank Gardiner Gang, it became known as The Gilbert Gang when Gardiner was captured in QLD in 1861. It then morphed into the Gilbert & Hall Gang and later again the Ben Hall Gang. Their revolving door policy remains strong to this day.
Mikey Lane (Frankie) - Won the ‘98 Shiraz Classic with a remarkable spell of putting magic but has not been able to reproduce that form in the decade since. Is back here for his third start in the Cup and takes the prize for the most travelled with a pilgrimage down from Sydney with trusty partner in crime Charlie. After two forgettable efforts at this championship in ’05 & ‘07, Frankie has made a serious commitment to his golf this year with regular lessons and a Hoganesque approach to spending time on the range and digging his swing out of the dirt. Will no doubt be very focused on the job at hand and, if he can bring the best of his game to the party, should finally force his way into contention on Sunday afternoon.
Form: Is capable of blowing this field apart if he finds his range with the flat stick. Offers great value at longish odds as he is well and truly due.
Graeme Uhd (Charlie) - Apart from the fact that he stands on the wrong side of the ball, he has a lot to recommend his chances here. Is the only player in the field with memberships at golf clubs in two states, so is a certifiable golf tragic. If only his passion for the game was matched by his talent. It isn’t. But what he lacks in skill he more than makes up for with enthusiasm and a passion for enjoying good company and good times. Is rumoured to have undertaken an extreme practice regime in preparation for this year’s Cup and has hatched a devious scheme with partner-in-crime Frankie to make a successful raid on the Cup and take this holy grail of golf north of the border. How this erratic genius fares will depend almost entirely on which side of bed he falls out of each morning.
Form: Was only interested in partying last year. Has cleaned up his act and means business in 2008. Should be thereabouts on Sunday afternoon when the action heats up.
David Regespurger (Ham) - Although a relative newcomer to the Shabby Dot Com Tour, has set himself for a huge debut in his maiden Cup. Announced his arrival with a strong showing at the Handicap Day in February and backed that up with a sterling effort at the Handicap Day at this venue in March. Is a smiling assassin who laughs and jokes his away around the course and then delivers the coup de grace when it matters most. Has set himself for a full-blown tilt at the Cup and laid devious plans with a confrere and partner in crime Mr T, who had to make himself scarce just prior to the Cup as the authorities were on to him and he couldn’t afford to be seen in public. This tragic loss has not dampened Ham’s enthusiasm and he is still keen to join the illustrious list of names who have jagged this title at their first attempt.
Form: Losing his stable mate only days before the event is certain to have upset his preparation. Is certain t0 keep battling away but may find this step up in class too much to handle in the circumstances.
Shane Morris (The Guzzler) - This robust, big-hitting and big-talking competitor is very lucky to have jagged a place in this field. He was the fourth alternate when Mr T dropped his bombshell that he was bailing out, and thought he had no hope of jagging a place in the field. But things changed quickly when the first alternate stubbed a toe, the second alternate slept in and the third alternate turned out to be a girl wanting to play in a men’s event. He couldn’t believe his luck earlier this week when the letter of invitation arrived. “When I opened the envelope and saw the Augusta National letterhead, I knew it could only mean one thing – that Bushranger Golf had broken into the home of the US Masters to steal some stationery and this was my invitation to the Bushranger Cup!” He knows the course here like the back of his hand, and so he should. With a swag of years on the Heathcote Golf Club committee, including a spell as President, some would argue he owns the joint. Once tried to sell the top half of all the trees on course to a business associate in Istanbul, so certainly qualifies as an A-grade Bushranger.
Form: Will be overwhelmed by the occasion and shouldn’t threaten this field but will be better for the run and will be a more serious contender at the Kelly Gang Shootout in July.
The Wild Colonial Boys - Emerging in the turbulent 1850s, these were a new breed of Bushrangers. They were not escaped convicts but the sons of immigrants or colonial born youths with a contempt for authority and a desire for quick riches and adventure.
Sam Saltis (Sammy The Duck) - This flighty stallion is rumoured to have settled down somewhat in the past year and may be put out to stud very soon. A Dapper Dan who always looks a treat in the mounting yard, he posted a stunning performance in his debut Cup in 2005 to drag his team to a podium finish, and returned last year to shoot the lights out once again. Although he missed the 2006 Cup, he won the inaugural Kelly Gang Shootout that year so certainly knows how to post a score. He leaves nothing to chance in his meticulous preparation between rounds and if his putter starts to sizzle, he could drag his team right into contention come Sunday arvo. He is known as The Duck because of his uncanny ability to find the water on any golf course, so will benefit from the dry conditions in Heathcote having robbed some of the water hazards of their moisture.
Form: Sits second on the Bushranger Cup all-time scoring averages so must be considered a very serious contender here this year.
Ross Mitchell (Rossco) - Made his debut in the 2006 Cup in Corowa and after a disastrous start on his opening singles, pulled himself together and performed superbly over the weekend to help his team to a respectable fourth place. Brings a wealth of strategic and tactical experience to his golf which, alas, he struggles to back up with much shot-making expertise. Does have the gift of a silver tongue and reads people better than he reads greens, so relies on his heckling expertise to bring the field back to his level. Gets his biggest kick from wringing the best out of himself at whatever he does so will no doubt cobble a score together here and hope that his volatile team-mates bring something to the table.
Form: Given the massive long-term vacancies in his trophy cabinet, is probably making a purely ceremonial appearance here this week and does not realistically expect to contend.
Campbell Wilson (Big C) - Traditionally a big-hitter and a risk taker who pays scant regard to the dangers confronting him on the course. His greatest strength is also his Achilles heel. When on song this big leftie can bulldoze his way around any course and beat it into submission with relative ease. However, he has been known to bring himself unstuck with all-out attack at times when a more conservative approach may have been the prudent option. Is believed to have set himself for this event with the goal of getting his course management under control. Is also a massive threat between rounds, with an extreme fondness for beer, a love of good times, a great affection for the punt and a sixth sense for finding out where the action is.
Form: If he hits his straps and has a sniff of the lead on the run to the post, may be very difficult to get past, but will have a big job on his hands keeping the wheels on his bandwagon all pointing in the same direction for the whole journey. A flighty stallion, will certainly need the blinkers on to stay focused.
Liam Anderson (The Wild Duck) - Although competing in his first Cup, is potentially one of the biggest Bushrangers in the field this week. Is a Heathcote local who takes his name from the creek that runs south of town. Exactly what he does down there in the mud and muck is a mystery, but it must be good for his golf game as he is far-and-away the lowest marker here. Will fit right in this week, as he comes across as an amiable, articulate and erudite gentleman with a friendly disposition, who is quick to share a joke and a laugh. Alas, he is a true Jekyll and Hyde. When he walks onto the course, he transforms into an unscrupulous, incoherent and testosterone-fuelled beast of masculine competitiveness. No doubt it will be a long and arduous round for his unfortunate playing partners this week.
Form: With no Bushranger experience under his belt, he is paddling along well out of his class here, in spite of his silky swing, svelte short game, exquisite putting, mountains of experience, elite coaching, local knowledge and superior course management skills. Has no hope in a field of this class and will certainly attract a lot of attention from the stewards if he is anywhere near the leaders at the finish.