He double-bogied 17. His rival was the tournament’s top seed and defending champion, and had birdied the same hole. His putter would not do as explicitly commanded.
Yet Long Reef’s Steve Prior two-putted the final hole at 13th Beach on the Bellarine Peninsula to finish 11-over and one-shot winner over Cameron Pollard in the Victorian Inclusive Championship.
Prior had been dominating the final round of the Championship – a World Ranking for Golfers with a Disability (WR4GD) event which ran concurrently with the Victorian Open – but at the penultimate hole blocked his drive into the trees.
He then re-loaded and made a ‘second ball par’ for a commendable, nerve-ridden double-bogey 7.
Pollard, meanwhile, the Sawtell GC man who won the event in 2020, made a fine birdie 4.
And the hunter had become the hunted.
“I kept my eye on the scores,” Prior told reporters afterwards. “It got a bit tricky on 17. I went left into the trees and reloaded.
“I had a par with the second ball, but Cam had a birdie there. A three-shot swing in one hole was quite dramatic.
“The putter let me down big-time today. I’m striking the ball well, very happy with that, but the putter was off.”
They weren’t quibbling in the Members Bar at Long Reef GC, however.
“Steve is an inspiration to all those people who have a disability,” Long Reef President Steve Twigg told Beaches Champion.
“At Long Reef he is one of the boys. It isn’t until he participates in these type of events that you realise how special his golfing achievements since his accident have been.”
It was nearly 30 years ago that a 17-year-old Prior lost his right hand while waterskiing – the tow rope from the speedboat was caught around his wrist. When the line pulled tight it pulled off his hand which plunged, never to be found, into the waters of Forster.
Prior, 45, has since won multiple Australian Amputee Opens as well as tournaments throughout Australia and New Zealand, including All Abilities competitions concurrent with the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne and 2017 World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath.
Prior rated his win in the Victorian Inclusive Open as among his sweetest.
“It’s very high up,” an emotional Prior said.
Asked what was next up, Prior replied: “Probably a beer, to be honest! That might be the first thing.”
In terms of golf he has the national amputee championships at Melbourne’s Sanctuary Lakes in April while the stableford competition at Long Reef looms large this Saturday.