Sports reports: Dean Wright gets back on his golf game

Plus the latest from Racing SA, Alex Bolt at Wimbledon 2021, Murray Bridge Rifle Club and the River Murray Football League.

This post includes contributions from Murray Bridge Golf Club, Racing SA, Tennis Australia’s Leigh Rogers, Murray Bridge Rifle Club’s Daniel Irvine and the River Murray Football League.

What are the chances of someone suddenly playing a blinder after not having played to their handicap for nigh on 18 months?

You could say they were due, but throw in the fact that it was the first round of the club championships and the competitive juices rise to the surface.

Yep, multiple C-grade club champion Dean Wright – pictured celebrating afterwards – picked the right time to come good when he demolished the field in a stroke competition at Murray Bridge Golf Club on Saturday with a score of nett 40.

Wrighty just loves a challenge and, with his heart problems seemingly in the background, can now smell another club title coming his way; or was it just a flash in the pan?

Time will tell as the club championships stretch over the next month.

The day was cold – it is winter, after all – with an occasional drizzle and the pace of play was testing for many players.

Only the truly dedicated golfer was out there.

The conditions were a breeze, though, for A-grade winner Andrew Meddle, who charged to a superb nett 66 on the back of a lot of sweetly struck and accurate strokes.

The runner-up, last year’s club champion Jared Thoman, had a nett 70, which was solid enough; he will be looking to go back to back this year and will be the odds-on favourite to do so.

Powerful left-hander “Buckets” Jackson smashed the B-graders with an ominous nett 66.

He hit the ball regularly into the next postcode, but cannot claim to be the most consistent player in the club.

Steady-as-she-goes Tom Haig grabbed second spot with a handy nett 70 as he thrived in the Scottish conditions.

Echunga visitor Nick Harrison cleaned up all of the locals and more in the C grade with his nett 68.

Eric Williams found a pulse in his game to be runner-up with a pleasing nett 69, giving him a nice start to the championship series.

Throw in the usual awkward pin positions that head groundsman Joe Ross loves to occasionally come up with and it was tough going to score well.

The ball-winners list was led in by a score of 70, which Dean Woolford, Garry Ryan, Peter Erickson and “Aussie” Bob McCormick all reached.

Tim Pfeiffer and “Midweek” Matt Kowald were one worse off at nett 71, while Corey Dahlitz, Daniel Hocking and Troy Penhall were next with 72s.

Even Steve Thiele, Malcolm Blight and Craig Hogben were rewarded for their solid play and scores of nett 73.

Playing in the final group of the day, Tailem Bend Golf Club blow-in Jamie Bockman was around at day’s end to celebrate his pro comp win with his fabulous nett 30 back nine easily doing the trick for him.

Another Echunga visitor looked likely to win the yabby for much of the day but local par-three sharpshooter Peter Erickson would have none of it and edged him out with a stunning iron shot on the 11th.

Michael Vella had a great start to his round, finding more trouble on the first hole than the early settlers and scoring an 11.

Very mentally taxing, that, in a stroke round.

While his golf improved as he continued – it simply had to – his day turned from boiled lollies to chocolates a bit later when his father’s racehorse got up at Flemington at 40/1, giving Vella a very sizeable collect after he was heard tipping it earlier on to anyone who wanted to listen.

While Dean Wright was having a day out, one of his namesakes, young Tyson Wright, was enjoying it a tad less.

Upon finding the hazard on the fifth with his tee shot, he managed to hack his ball a few metres before then losing it for good in the middle of the water with his third shot.

His iron was promptly dispatched into a watery grave in disgust before he realised who was in his group.

Stony-faced KG Graetz and club manager Shane Aldridge are doyens of good behaviour on course and, feeling a bit guilty, Wright took off his shoes and socks, waded in knee-deep to retrieve his iron and played on with very cold feet for a few holes.

Meanwhile, Captain Morgan was heard bemoaning the fact that he had more than a handful of lip-outs during his round – was there an unluckier player in the club?

Yes there was, captain.

While he wasn’t playing on the day, everyone knows Damo Moloney is that player.

Michael Hickmott looks back on a memorable 12 months

Premiership aside, 2021 will be remembered as a pivotal season in the career of Murray Bridge trainer Michael Hickmott.

Hickmott claimed a four-win lead over Phillip Stokes and the Tony and Calvin McEvoy stables in the Adelaide trainers’ premiership with a double on his home track on Saturday and four city meetings remaining, but he has his sights on a bigger picture.

“I’m delighted with the work that has gone in from everyone in the team, from the staff here at the stables, my riders and more importantly my clients that have supported me,” he said.

“They’ve understood we’ve made a big commitment buying the property (Lakewood Stud at Wellington).

“We are investing a stack of money out there, have a heap of development happening out there currently and even more to come in the next couple of years.

“Everything bodes well going forward.”

Alex Bolt bows out of Wimbledon

Alex Bolt’s eight-match winning streak ended with a straight-sets loss to number 29-seeded Brit Cameron Norrie at Wimbledon last week.

The 28-year-old wildcard from Murray Bridge started strongly, racing to a 3-0 lead in the opening set.

But Norrie soon demonstrated the form that has helped him break into the world’s top 40 this season, winning a run of 11 games to take control of the match.

World number 149 Bolt struck 24 winners in the 95-minute match, but 38 unforced errors hurt his chances.

Rifle club members endure a damp shoot

A healthy turnout of 19 members and three visitors contested the first round of the new Murray Bridge Rifle Club championship from 600 metres on Saturday.

However, the weather was far less enthusiastic – it was cold, wet and windy, but especially wet, as shooters had to scramble for cover from the rain several times.

The conditions convinced several shooters to call it a day halfway through, while others didn’t think they could get much wetter.

Many of those who persevered were rewarded with some good scores.

In F-class, David MacDonald and Nicole Edwards both scored 59s, helping them to the F-open and FTR top off-rifle badges for the day, while a bag of 58s and 57s were also recorded, including one by Frank Marshall to help him secure the F-standard top off-rifle prize.

The only possibles of the day, however, were in target rifle, where Andrew Heard, whose daughter and grandson had come out for a try, followed a first-round 48.07 with a 50.01.

Still he was unable to catch runaway top off-rifle winner Rob Paech, who achieved the perfect score of a double possible, with 11 centres for good measure.

Paech’s impressive score was also enough to secure the handicap award in target rifle, again from Andrew Heard by two and a half points.

In F-class, MacDonald’s plummeting handicap was still enough to secure him the award in that class by the barest of margins from new member Mark Bracken.

In less sought-after awards, Peter Byass and Daniel Irvine each started the year on a less-than-impressive note, winning the dreaded “magpie award” in their respective categories.

This week the club will shoot the second round of the championship from 700 metres, and will hopefully stay a bit drier doing it.

River Murray Football League round 14 scores

Jervois 15.10 (100) def Imperials 7.4 (46)

Jervois goals: J. Scott 4, Z. Makins 3, M. Kemp 2, T. Silverlock 1, S. Rushe 1, L. Kluske 1, T. Gibson 1, A. Diamond 1, J. Joy 1. Best: R. McKaye, Z. Barry, L. Kluske, A. Diamond, M. Kemp.

Imperial goals: J. Laube 3, J. Boras 2, M. Farnham 1, K. Dalitz 1. Best: J. Clarke, B. Martin, S. McMahon, R. Farnham, J. Boras.

Mannum 10.14 (74) def Ramblers 5.8 (38)

Mannum goals: C. Reschke 4, D. Gladigau 4, I. Hampel 1, C. Horstmann 1. Best: B. Tabe, Z. Bullard, J. Wiebrecht, J. Boylan, M. O’Malley.

Rambler goals: R. Vanson 2, B. McDonald 1, L. Kelei 1, T. Matthews 1. Best: M. Hartman, T. Baker, R. Vanson, G. Rigney, M. Wegener.

Tailem Bend 24.20 (164) def Meningie 2.2 (14)

Tailem Bend goals: B. Rossi 6, J. Bell 4, N. Westhoff 2, B. Franks 2, C. Smelt 2, D. Finnie 2, D. Hogarth 2, B. Hansen 1, T. Starkey 1, M. Hansen 1, T. Geyer 1. Best: B. Hansen, M. Hansen, H. Irwin, T. Geyer, D. Finnie.

Meningie goals: G. Saddlier 1, B. Vandenbrink 1. Best: C. Mason, L. Thompson, B. Halliday, W. Angas, J. Lawson.

Murray Bridge News is happy to share news, results or photos from sporting clubs throughout Murray Bridge and the surrounding region, free of charge. Email or call 0419 827 124.

You can help keep local stories like this one free for everyone to read. Subscribe to Murray Bridge News today and support your independent, locally owned news service, plus get access to exclusive stories you won’t find anywhere else, for just $5.50 a month.