AUSTRALIA and New Zealand have always enjoyed an intense rivalry on the sporting field.
Yet yesterday, two seasoned golfers stood side by side in triumph at the Hervey Bay Golf and Country Club.
Victorian Tim Elliott and Kiwi financial planner Peter Hayes were declared joint winners of the $20,000 Fraser Coast Classic after the pair each carded rounds of one-under 69 and par-70 in the two-day event.
Queenslander John Price and New South Wales' David Merriman were one shot back.
For Hayes, who now has five wins since joining the Australian PGA Legends Tour four years ago, said he was delighted to take home the crown at his fourth attempt.
"I'm surprised, really, I have been struggling with my game a little bit in the last few weeks," he said.
"This would have to be right up there as one of my best victories because of the quality of the field and because it's over two rounds."
Hayes, 53, traded five birdies for five bogeys during yesterday's round of 70, but never missed a fairway all weekend and was almost flawless on the greens.
Elliott got off to a flying start in his round yesterday, claiming three birdies on the front nine, but a string of three bogeys in five holes allowed Hayes to charge into contention.
Although this was Elliott's first Fraser Coast Classic title, the 1995 South Australian and 1998 Western Australian Open champion is no stranger to the area having won the Hervey Bay Open during the '90s.
A player on the European Senior Tour last year, the 52-year-old said he enjoyed taking on the challenging course and the chance to bask in a bit of sunshine while he was here.
"Anytime you win is great," he said.
"I just love it up in Queensland.
"The weather is just unbelievable.
"My wife rang me this morning and she said it is hailing down there ( in Victoria) at the moment and looking like it's going to snow.
"You know where I'd rather be."
Former world top-10 player Rodger Davis fired an even-par 70 yesterday to finish in a three-way tie for fifth with Steven Aisbett and overnight leader Paul Dalgleish.
Defending champion and two-time winner Hugh Dolan finished a further three shots back in 12th, while former US PGA Champion Wayne Grady was never in the hunt with rounds of 78 and 76.
FRASER COAST CLASSIC
1= Tim Elliott 139 (-1)
1= Peter Hayes 139 (-1)
3= John Price 140 (par)
3= David Merriman 140 (par)
5= Steven Aisbett 142 (+2)
5= Rodger Davis 142 (+2)
5= Paul Dalgleish 142 (+2)
8= Russell Swanson 143 (+3)
8= Greg Hohnen 143 (+3)
10= Stephen Herbert 144 (+4)
10= Richard Backwell 144 (+4)