Wollongong’s Thomas Heaton has booked his second trip to the NSW Open in three years with a resounding come-from-behind victory in the Cessnock Cup over the weekend.
The 18-year-old representative from the Australian Golf Club made the long trek up the M1 to the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley in pursuit of the available exemption and came away with a one-shot victory.
Heaton carded rounds of 75 and 64 for a three-under-par 139 total, with Lynwood’s Adam Nelson (140) in second place. Mark Hale from Mudgee and Justin Ely from Waratah GC in Newcastle finished tied for third on 141.
“I played well. I hit 17 out of 18 greens yesterday, eight birdies and only one bogey.”
“The birdies came one by one; it was a great feeling.
“I was six behind after the first round; I just went out with a positive mindset. I tried to stay in the moment and simply post a score,” Heaton said.
It will be a return trip to NSW Open for the 18-year-old who has very fond memories of his maiden appearance back in 2018. An ace on just his second hole for the tournament turned the then 16 year old into a bit of a media celebrity.
“It feels good to know I am going back.
“The first time I was a bit nervous, so hopefully I can do better than I did last time.”
“Yeah, the hole-in-one on my second ever hole… I would love to get off to a start like that again, for sure.
“The thrill was something special; hopefully, I can replicate that!”
With his place in the 2021 Open at Concord assured, Heaton intends spending the next few months honing his game against the toughest opposition he can find.
“I’ve been going to the gym and practising, but with COVID, there hasn’t been many tournaments to play in.
“I’ll probably play a few of the Regional Open Series events to prepare myself for Concord now.”
*Buddy Nagi and Grahame Blake locked up the places available in the Lincoln Place NSW Senior Open. Nagi, from St. Michael’s carded rounds of 71 & 75, for a 146 total, while Baker from Waratah carded rounds of 77 and 72.
Thomas Heaton 139
Adam Nelson 140
Mark Hale 141
Justin Ely 141
Ben Sweetman 145
Buddy Nagi 146
Grahame Baker 149