COFFS Harbour golfer Jason Barby overcame a tense playoff on Sunday to earn a second North Coast Open win.
Barby holed a 15-foot birdie putt from the back of the 18th green on the fourth sudden-death hole to edge out Dillon Hart from Emerald Lakes who was chasing back-to-back crowns.
The winning putt sent the gallery around the 18th green and in the Coffs Harbour Golf Club clubhouse into raptures as they were clearly barracking for a home town victory.
For Barby, he thought his title-winning putt involved an ounce of luck.
“I was just trying to get it on the edge of the green anywhere about two feet left of the hole and as long as it was trickling it probably had a chance,” Barby said.
“It was a bit firmer than I wanted but the result was good.”
Barby, who first won the ‘Norco’ in 2017, shot a 2-under 69 on Sunday. He started the second round equal with Woolgoolga’s Logan Toms, both three strokes behind Hart. The reigning champion held the first-round lead by a shot over Aden Louez with Chris Spencer another stroke further back.
Even though he wasn’t playing in the final group, Barby said he was aware of what the situation was behind him.
“People told me about every third or fourth hole. They usually said you’re one down, you’re one down, you’re one down so I just kept going and tried to make some birdies but I wasn’t getting any,” he said.
Both Hart and Barby did manage to birdie the par-5 17th hole to head up the last hole tied at 1-under.
The pair both made bogeys on the final hole to be tied at even with the card after 36 holes.
The result could so easily have gone the other way. On that last hole. Hart lipped out a five-foot sliding par putt that would’ve seen him win the crown.
It was missing a few short putts throughout the tournament that Hart said proved costly.
“It was just the short game and the feel that let me down. Obviously, it happens when you don’t play too much but you can’t complain,” Hart said.
In the playoff, the two had matching bogeys for the first two trips up the 18th hole. The first effort saw both unable to manage tricky downhill chip shots while the second trip saw neither unable to make an up-and-down from the front edge.
Barby made a par-save from the back-left corner in the third playoff hole to match Hart’s regulation par.
It was only after the fourth trip up the hill toward the clubhouse that Barby produced his title-winning heroics.
While there was plenty of nervous tension in the gallery, the winner said he felt relatively calm.
“There’s no nerves. You don’t even notice the people here,” he said.
“You just try and hit the fairway, hit the green and then if you get a look at it, try and hole it.”
In the Coffs City Golf Centre Ladies Classic, Adele Douglas from Bonville wrapped up victory for the second consecutive year winning by a dozen strokes from Coffs Harbour’s Trish Nance. Fellow Coffs player Beck Goldsmith finished third a further stroke behind.
Douglas rued two costly holes on Saturday but said her driving was a feature of the win. She also said making some crucial putts on Sunday was crucial.
“I saved so many pars with good putts so my score could’ve easily been another five shots worse but I saved four-five metre pars all day, it was really good,” Douglas said.
“The greens were really fast, heaps faster than Bonville so I had to really just focus on tapping it if it was downhill or just trying to judge it but I suppose everyone was in the same boat.”
Douglas said going back-to-back was “pretty cool”, adding that she didn’t think she’d won “anything back-to-back” in the past.
“I was looking forward to coming back. I hadn’t played here since last year which was the first time that I’d played here so I did forget a few holes and I just hit and hoped but it worked out alright,” she said.
For any visiting players looking to win one of the big two tournaments that provides a fitting finale each year to the Coffs Harbour Golf Club’s Festival of Golf, Barby has a word of warning.
“It’s pretty difficult. They set the course up pretty tricky and the greens are really quick, really firm and if you don’t put it in the right spot you don’t really have a good look at it,” he said.
NORTH COAST OPEN
141 Jason Barby (Coffs Harbour) 72, 69(won in playoff), Dillon Hart (Emerald Lakes) 69, 72.
144 Adam Hawkins (Palm Meadows) 74, 70, Jack Pountney (Coffs Harbour) 73, 71.
146 Aden Louez (Coffs Harbour) 70, 76.
149 Stuart Squires (Keysborough) 76, 73.
156 Adele Douglas (Bonville) 79, 77.
168 Trish Nance (Coffs Harbour) 82, 86.
169 Beck Goldsmith (Coffs Harbour) 89, 80.
170 Tracey Foster (Coffs Harbour) 88, 82.