It might not have been the prettiest golf ever witnessed, but Duntryleague’s Robert Payne has done enough to take out the NSW Senior Amateur Championship today at Bathurst Golf Club.
The 58-year old grabbed the title by three shots from his final-round playing partner, New Zealand’s Michael Barltrop. In a tie for third place was defending Champion, Mona Vale’s Stefan Albinski, and West Australian Martin Minogue.
Payne, who was happy to be leading the event after 36 holes, let the pressure get to him early, which allowed his opponents a sniff of victory.
“My front nine was terrible. It was very tough out there, I don’t know why I was so nervous,
“They were two and three behind, and I found myself playing them and not the golf course,
“Golf a funny game and I’ve played it long enough to know not to get into this situation,” Payne said.
As one mistake led to another for the tournament leader, challengers started to appear. Playing in the group ahead of Payne, the Queenslander Minogue got himself into contention with a tidy front nine of one-over par 37.
After an uncharacteristic bogey on the 10th by Payne after failing to extricate himself from a green side bunker, the lead had evaporated and his playing partner, Barltrop, was still in with a chance of snatching the win.
Payne, realising he had a battle on his hands to grab the trophy, made a gutsy birdie on 14th hole to re establish his lead, before closing out the Championship with a couple of late pars.
“I knew I was two up with three to go. Both of us made a bogey on 16, then on 17 Michael three putted and I saved par. It gave me a buffer coming up the last,”
“I hit a nice drive and a good approach shot in on the 18th. That took a lot of pressure off me. If it had been a one-shot lead it would have been a different story,” Payne smiled.
Despite carding a disappointing final round 5-over par 76, Payne was happy to take the title.
“To card 76 at the end was a little disappointing, but the victory is very, very sweet,”
The NSW Senior Amateur win is Payne’s third major state title and will sit alongside his 2000 Country Championship triumph and the 2001 NSW Amateur Championship Crown. This one however feels pretty special to the Central West Local.
“This win is good not only for Duntryleague, but the Central West District,”
“The State Amateur I won felt fantastic. But this one has got to be up there with it. I’m 58 yrs old and still competitive, so I’m very proud of this one,”
“Kate, my wife will be really pleased, to get this, it fills the set,” Payne smiled.