Rachel still making a mark in retirement

It’s hard to put a gauge on what Rachel Hetherington has given professional golf in this country in the past 20 years.

Amazingly the New South Wales-born Hetherington pointed out that even with all her world-wide success, including a win in the prestigious Evian Masters, rated as the “fifth” major, she is still yet to win on her home shores.

Rachel Hetherington Rachel still making a mark in retirement

“Maybe I’ll do something about this year,” she grinned at the annual dinner of the Australian Golf Writers Association at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney.

Hetherington and her family were special guests at the dinner after she was named the Australian Golf Writers Association honouree of the year.

Typical of Hetherington, she likes to do her talking on the golf course and not in front of a crowd of writers poised with notepads, should she say something controversial.

Still it was a satisfying night for Hetherington, as she joined the likes of the late Norman von Nida as well as Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Karrie Webb, Greg Norman, Jack Newton and Bob and Kathie Shearer as recipients of this award.

As president of the AGWA Brendan Moloney pointed out: “Many of us have watched Rachel’s progress through the amateur ranks, where she played for Australia, as well as winning many state titles.

“Those of us in the golfing media knew then that she was a special player.

“And in later years we continued to track her progress as a professional on the world stage.

“To win twice in Europe and chalk up eight more wins on the on the US LPGA Tour when both Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam were at the height of their game is nothing short of a wonderful performance.

“We are also quite proud of the fact that she teamed with Karrie Webb to win the 2000 World Cup for Australia.”

Moloney pointed out that throughout her career Hetherington had shown intense competitiveness and grace under pressure on and off the course.

“She also impressed everyone with her honesty, charm and insight when dealing with members of the media,” he said.

“We are sorry that her overseas campaign has ended with injury and we wish her all the best in life after golf.”

Of course the injury didn’t cause Hetherington to stop playing, it just hastened her decision to sell her Florida home and, along with her husband, former Test cricketer Greg Richie, move back to Australia full-time.

Her broken ankle, the legacy of a skateboard accident, kept her off the tour for many months, but she fought her way back and decided to end her competitive career in the US at the Canadian Open in August, where she fired rounds of 75-73-66-72 to finish tied for 24th behind Michelle Wie and walk away with a cheque for $23,700.

“The time was right,” she said. “I was ready to come home and stop living life out of a suitcase.”

Hetherington said she felt “incredibly humbled” by this award and she considered it an honour to be on hand to accept it.

“As golf has been my life for many years to be rewarded in this way by Australia’s golfing media is something that I and my family will cherish,” she said.

“I have to thank the members of the Australian Golf Writers Association for honouring me in this way.”

The night saw guest speaker Matt Kamienski give a talk about this year’s Presidents Cup, to be played at Royal Melbourne.

Kamienski is the executive director organising the event Down Under.

There were also several awards handed out to a string of golf’s media men, who produce some of our more memorable pieces during the year.