NSW Golf Club has set the standard in Sydney Metropolitan Major Pennant with a thrilling defence of their title against a gallant Avondale at Terrey Hills Golf and Country Club.
With a gallery of about 200 following, it was a clutch birdie on the 19th to NSW number two player, Zinyo Garcia, which sealed the deal for the La Perouse squad.
Earlier, it appeared NSW were cruising towards victory, with six of the seven matches in hand as the contest headed to the back nine.
Avondale wasn’t going to give up, however, and put a point on the board with a win form Henry Hesketh to start proceedings before Shaun Cameron and Dean Van Kampen grabbed wins for NSW to tilt the ledger their way.
Bryce PIckin picked up a vital point for Avondale with a win on the 21st, and when Will Bayliss snared a 3/1 win, Avondale had their nose in front.
Zach Mullins, who was always in control of his match against Jye Pickin, squared it up at three-all with a 3/1 win, which left the fate of the 2019 Pennant in the hands of Garcia, or Avondale’s Christopher Fan.
With just the last hole to play, it was Garcia who held all the cards, with a one-hole lead, but when both players blew their approach shots over the back of the green, it was Fan who wowed the gallery with a clutch par save to force the contest into overtime.
With the gallery abuzz and the pressure intensifying, both players pulled their drive on the 19th hard into the trees on the left, and the contest was anyones.
After finding their balls, both players elected to lay up, but with Garcia considerably closer to the green. Fan wasn’t going to play it safe though and he promptly rifled a great approach to about 15 feet.
Garcia bettered it soon after, knocking his wedge to about 3 feet and with it heaping all the pressure back on Fan.
Fan, first away, gave the putt his all, but when it slid by all that was left was for Garcia to roll his putt in and with it claim the Major Pennant for NSW.
Zac Mullins was a very relieved man after the win.
“Every year, it doesn’t get any easier.
“It was pretty stressful in the end, but the boys hung in there for each other.
“Avondale put up a great fight. They are a tough side, and they will be tough for years to come.”
The drama-charged atmosphere of extra holes is a familiar experience for Mullins following his win last week against Concord ‘s Josh Gadd, and he paid tribute to Garcia for maintaining his composure to seal the result.
“It’s not a comfortable feeling, and there was probably twice the number of people following to what I had last week,
“He did really well. To hit that wedge shot the way he did with the adrenaline flowing, and with the title on the line, he did superbly.
“He’s got big things to come. He’s been playing well, and I wish him the best.”
With back-to-back Division One titles now hanging in the Clubhouse, Mullins was asked If a three-peat was on the cards.
“I hope so, we’ve just got to get through the celebrations tonight unscathed and we will see,” he smiled.