Payne relief: Open field void of its champ

NOT GOING: Last year's Bathurst Open champion Robert Payne won't be in this year's field. Photo: ALEX GRANT

NOT GOING: Last year's Bathurst Open champion Robert Payne won't be in this year's field. Photo: ALEX GRANT

DEFENDING Bathurst Open champion Robert Payne will miss this weekend’s tournament as he continues to manage a troublesome left knee.

The 58-year-old requires a full knee replacement, but isn’t eligible to have the procedure immediately due to his age.

“The doctor said if I was seven or eight years older they’d have it done straight away,” Payne said.

“I’m still playing golf, and if I could hire a cart I’d be there … but I forgot to enter and there’s a good group of Orange players heading down, but I thought it’d be best to have a weekend off.”

His seventh triumph at Bathurst, Payne won last year’s Open by one stroke from fellow Duntryleague gun James Conran.

Last weekend, Payne took out the four ball championship at Duntryleague alongside Dennis Schultz, the former hitting 65 off the stick on Sunday.

He walked both days of the tournament and said the knee has pulled up sore this week.

“And Bathurst is a bit hillier than Duntryleague as well,” he added.

“I’m disappointed not to be there. I haven’t missed it in a long time and I look forward to it, it’s a great tournament.” 

Jones Commerford won the Dubbo Open in September, while the Parkes Open was won by Steve Betland.

Bathurst is next cab off the rank, with Orange’s open season beginning with Duntryleague’s Hahn Open on November 5 and 6. 

The Country Club, Blayney and Wentworth Opens will be played over the next six weeks.

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