When the combatants look back on the 2022 NSW Amateur Championship finals, they’ll be very proud.
Harrison Crowe and Sarah Hammett are the respective men’s and women’s champions after a day of spectacular golf at Links Shell Cove.
And while the technically “vanquished” runners-up, Jye Halls and Chyla Singh, leave beaten, they should take with them the knowledge that it took two special performances to outduel them.
Crowe, 20, reinforced his status as a blue-chip property of Australian amateur golf with a 6&4 victory in his 36-hole final with the emerging Halls.
The St Michael’s member made four birdies in the closing six holes of the morning round to establish a five-hole buffer at the break.
And while Halls, 17, pushed hard to bridge the gap in the afternoon phase, Crowe answered every challenge in style.
The Mollymook and New South Wales teenager threw four birdies at Crowe in the third stretch of nine holes.
But Crowe, the recently crowned Master of the Amateurs and Vic Amateur champion, responded with five of his own to win his home state’s crown.
“I was happy with that because Jye played great golf out there and I really felt like I had to push to keep things in (check),” said Crowe, who was calm throughout the day, but drawn into a rare fist pump with a downhill birdie putt on the 26th hole.
“That was massive,” he said after knocking in his slider seconds after Halls’ curling eagle try stayed out.
“Jye was coming, I thought and just starting to get into the match again … so I needed that to sort of steady things a bit.
“He was a bit stiff with his own birdie putt on the (27th) and from there I just played steady golf.”
The women’s match was epic and tight throughout, yet never tense as the combatants were best of mates.
But the smiles and conversations of the Gold Coast 15-year-olds should not be misconstrued as a lack of concentration because the golf they churned out was worthy of an even higher stage.
Never more than one hole separated them during their first 18 holes, with each carding six-under-par 65s to take a break all square.
Singh twice stretched out to 2-up leads when the match resumed, but finally missed a fairway on the 25th hole and her resultant bogey cut her lead to one hole.
That was Hammett’s cue. She made three birdies in the following five holes to seemingly gain a match-winning ascendancy.
When she knocked her tee shot to within 4m on the par-3 14th, Hammett could have been excused for thinking her time was nigh.
But that turned spectacularly into folly, much to the delight of the large gallery who’d only just finished clapping Crowe’s victory when Singh knocked in a 6-iron from 135m for her third career hole-in-one.
Extraordinarily, more was soon to follow.
Singh reached for her driver on the short par-4 15th and, having tried to “just knock it near the green to give myself a short chip”, watched as it bounced up the front bank and just past the hole for what would have been an albatross.
She calmly knocked in her putt for a two, remarkably for a second consecutive eagle that squared the match again.
Hammett, though, was not swayed from her own game and par on the 34th (16th) was enough to re-establish her lead before her birdie on the 35th sealed the deal 2-up.
“It was an amazing match, Shyla played so well. Those eagles were awesome,” Hammett said.
“I just tried my best and played my own game.”
The win capped an amazing week for Hammett, the recent SA Junior Amateur and ACT Week Of Golf champion, who was also the stroke play champion set up by her stunning opening 64 at Shell Cove on Monday.
“It depends what score you give me on that 14th after Shyla’s hole-in-one, but I’m probably around 10 or 11 under today (through 35 holes), so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Singh was excited about her late heroics, but typifying the great spirit of finals day, she was more vocal about her friend’s victory and great form.
“She was so good all day, it was great to be part of and see her do that. Hopefully I can get her soon,” Singh said with a smile.