Big leads, as Australians with memories of Augusta and 1996 will know, are far from insurmountable. In no time they can be reduced to a something less bloated and the doubts edge closer to the surface.

Brady Watt has been a pro too long for a man of his technical ability not to have won and we have all wondered why. The swing looked first-class and his amateur record, highlighted by making a semi-final at the US Amateur Matt Fitzpatrick won, was stellar.

Watt is also the exact player the Sandbelt Invitational was hoping to throw a lifeline. So many good young players have endured two years of so little competitive golf and no opportunity to head overseas to play a tour school – the only real way to join a foreign tour.

He is a member at Peninsula Kingswood so there was the obvious advantage of knowing the course, but he was never really threatened. There was a dangerously low score out there as Elvis Smylie’s brilliant 64 showed but he was too far back to threaten anyone. Look out for him though.

Jed Morgan was second, his final 70 matching Watt’s final eighteen score. The 2020 Australian Amateur champion at Royal Queensland is another to watch in the months and years to come. Like so many he won the Amateur just before the world shut down and for a couple of years frustrating stagnation was the inevitable result.

This tournament was a first go at a concept with a chance to turn into something Melbourne golf can be proud of. For the longest time it was The Australian Masters but after thirty-six years it’d run its course as the professional calendar changed and made coming down here much less attractive. The Vic Open is a wonderful event but Barwon Heads is a longish way from Melbourne and the sandbelt is crying out for a regular event and not just a random Australian Open here and there.

This week the four courses were the stars and the attraction for players who rarely play courses of this class. Given the rumoured amounts of appearance money on offer in the Middle East we can no longer compete with the fortunes being paid in fees to overseas stars. If we ever want a decent tour here again, we need our best local players including
Cam Smith, Marc, Leishman, Cameron Davis, Min Woo and Min Jee Lee, Hannah Green playing at least occasionally at home. Just to have Lucas Herbert play this week was a huge help to the tournament as spectators could walk the fairways with our latest PGA Tour winner.

In return we can honour them by giving them some of the best stages in the game and if nothing else this week showed off the beauty of playing golf on great architecture