Eagle lands Caracalla’s fourth title

By Robert Muir

It was all tied up with one hole to play in the 72-hole 2020 Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Resort Club Championship last Sunday.

Richie Caracella and Baxter Droop hit huge drives near each other and their long iron shots to the Par 5, Lake Course 18th green were pin high.

But it was advantage Caracella who was about four foot away from the target compared to Droop’s off, but close to, the green.

A well-executed chip left the eventual runner-up with about a four-footer. The eventual winner putted in for a spectacular eagle, claiming his fourth club championship, having won in 2000, 2002 and 2003.

Caracella finished with scores of 71, 71, 74 and a superb 68 for a total of 284 to win from Droop on 286 (72, 71, 71, 72) and record club championship title holder Jay Ar Martin 288 (74, 70, 70, 74).

“It was huge,” was how 35-year-old Caracella described his victory to the Yarrawonga Chronicle. “It was nice to come back and play in front of home town people.

“I’ve missed playing with members and this wonderful facility. Getting this win means a lot.”

He wasn’t happy with his first three rounds with” chopping and changing clubs” which had him two strokes behind his playing partners. “In the fourth and final round I really wanted to make it competitive,” Caracella, who has regained his amateur status, said.

For the past eight years, Richie has lived in Queensland on the Sunshine Coast and had another special reason for wanting to win the 2020 YMGCR club championship.

His dad Bernie Caracella has a big fight on his hands with throat cancer which weighed heavily on his mind during that final round.  “I nearly got teary,” Richie said.

Baxter Droop turns 17-years-of-age next month and turned in a lot of brilliant golf. His first championship title looked like happening with just three holes to go. People were wondering if history was going to repeat itself when older brother Frazer, who was 15 beat Jay Ar to claim his first title.

There was, however, other history repeating itself, when Richie overtook Jay Ar this year, like he did in 2002. In 2004, of course, Jay Ar set out on a course to eventually overtake Gary Page’s record of 10 titles and has dominated the event this century. 

Always gracious in defeat – not that it happens very often – 11-time title holder Jay Ar had a two-stroke lead after the eight hole in the final round and was extremely unlucky when that front edge 15th Par 4 green played its usual trick of the ball taking a trip, in slow motion, off the green and down plenty of metres.

But he’d never make excuses and applauded the performances of his mates Richie and Baxter. 

It didn’t rain during that wonderful round last Sunday. Despite overcast weather, a good size crowd followed the three stars and were entertained with quite awesome golf.

The trio did the club proud. The crowd loved the golf. Bring on the 2021 championships!