Maryborough’s Dane Smith will be giving winning the annual El Cheapo Tour for the third time his best shot.
Maryborough’s Dane Smith will be giving winning the annual El Cheapo Tour for the third time his best shot.

Dane after El Cheapo hatrick

A BUS load of good and bad players, wannabes, should have beens and has-beens will leave Maryborough this morning and make their annual pilgrimage south in pursuit of golfing greatness.

Twenty-four Fraser Coast players will give being crowned the El Cheapo Tour champion their best shot over the next three days.

Corporate big wigs, tradies, retirees, businessmen and even a couple of public servants will hit the fairways and greens of three clubs on the Sunshine Coast to try and earn the right to wear the champion’s yellow cap with pride.

One player who knows just how it feels to wear the cap is someone who made history when he won it 12 months ago, Dane Smith.

Smith, a member of the Maryborough Golf Club, became the first player to win the event twice in its 15-year history after he finished two points clear at the top of the leader board at the end of the three-round tour.

The champion is the player who finishes the three rounds with the most stableford points.

This year, players will tee off at Horton Park Golf Club, Twin Waters and Headland.

Smith, the youngest player on tour at 32, said he was looking forward to the challenge that awaits him on a tour which was given its name because the original 12 tourists had to endure travel and accommodation which was described by one of the players who went as rather “cheap”.

“I’d love to make it a hat-trick for sure but it won’t be easy,” Smith, who plays off a handicap of six, said.

“There are plenty of quality golfers (seven other former champions are in the field this year) just itching to knock me off the throne – they will have to work hard though.

“I won’t be giving this title up without a fight.”

But will Smith hit the fairway in top form to defend his title?

“Well, I am not really playing all that good at the moment to be honest but that won’t count for nothing over the next three days – my game will lift for sure this weekend,” he said.

“It always does on this tour.”

Who does Smith tip to be his major rivals?

“Tinker (Malcolm) Bell is a dark horse I reckon,” Smith told the Chronicle.

“Adrian Files is another I’ll be keeping a close eye on.”

Another player who will be on course doing his best to impress this year will be veteran Allen Kehoe.

Kehoe, who is rumoured to be the oldest on tour although many think Terry Hemming is, made history like Smith last year but for all the wrong reasons.

Papa Smurf as he is called, finished last and in doing so became the first ex-champion to end up at the bottom of the pile.

One El of a way to play golf
  • Eight former tour champions are in the field this year. They are, John Knight, Geoff Clifton, Brett Dioth, Rob Dempster, Tony Martin, Allen Kehoe, Neil Smith and Dane Smith
  • This is the first time in the history of the tour that all players who played the year before will tee off again.
  • Two players, Brett Dioth and John Knight, have been on every tour.
  • Tour officials rate Dane Smith, Brett Dioth, Neil Smith, Adrian Files and Marvin Reck as the players who should be in contention to win the prized yellow cap.

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