The form player of the 2024 PGA Legends Tour just got even hotter.

Queenslander Chris Taylor saluted in a tight Sheen Panel Service Legends Pro-Am at Portarlington on Tuesday, fending off a host of challengers for a one-shot victory.

His four-under-par 68 edged out five players – Michael Isherwood, Euan Walters, Ben Jackson, David Miles and tournament drawcard Peter Lonard – on 69 in the first event on Australian soil for the 2024 season.

Highly fancied trio Terry Price, Peter Fowler and Lucien Tinkler were among another group at 70, while the popular Mark Allen and 2023 order of merit champion Andre Stolz – the day’s unluckiest player – were in another band at 71.

The win, already Taylor’s third in the nine events of the 2024 season, looked anything but likely after he started on Portarlington’s 18th hole and was yet to hit a green in regulation by the time he stood on the sixth tee.

But a white-hot putter kept the Hervey Bay pro in the hunt and when the long game clicked into gear, he rolled in five birdies in seven holes from the seventh to charge clear.

And even as his playing partners fell victim to the mid-course hospitality tents, Taylor – third at Portarlington last year – kept his cool with only the one bogey on the tough par-4 15th.

“It’s one of those courses that you can score really well on, but there are a few holes out there that can really bring you back to earth quickly, so I was glad to miss out on that damage with my short game today,” said Taylor, who paid tribute to the groundstaff for the immaculate greens.

“We had a great day in our team, I stayed away from the bar out there and my putter behaved, so it was great.

“The greens looked slow but they rolled out really nicely and on that pure surface, if you get the ball on line, the ball will go in.

“The surrounds and the fairways are second to none, probably the best we play on nearly all year, so there were no excuses with the putter.

“And that’s what I did today – I made 90 per cent of them, but even the ones that I did miss just ran over the edges.

“I didn’t hit it that great, but overall I got away with it.”

Taylor, 52, who won twice in the recent New Zealand swing, had a purple patch last year, winning three events in a row in August-September, including the three-round PNG Senior Open.

“It’s nice to be in a bit of form and make a flying start to the season … hopefully I can keep it going.”

Stolz, along with Price the defending champion, looked set to repeat his 2023 victory when he charged to five under through the generally tougher back nine after starting on the 10th.

He missed a couple of shortish chances to extend his lead on the third and fourth, but came to grief on the seventh in the most unfortunate of circumstances.

Stolz ripped his approach to the par-4 to kick-in range, but when he leant down to repair his pitch mark next to the hole, realised he’d hit his playing partner’s ball.

The resultant triple-bogey seven dropped him from the hunt.

Of the other main drawcards, Mike Clayton, Nick O’Hern and Mark Tickle each had 75 to share 34th.


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