Former NSW Junior Champ and now a sophomore at the University of Missouri, Joshuaa Robards, has claimed the prestigious Pine to Palms Crown in Detroit, Michigan.
Robards had what he described as “the round of the the week” in the final, with seven birdies in 16 holes to defeat a former champion in the event, Ian Simonich, 3/2.
Robards told the Detroit Lakes Tribune the tournament was quite an experience, and the victory was one he was thrilled to claim.
“It’s been a heap of fun to come up here and play,” Robards said. “It’s honestly such an amazing course. It’s awesome to cap off a win in my last summer tournament before I go back to school. I played solid all through summer, but I had not been able to find it. After my first two days, I knew it was somewhere in (me). I ended up finding it with the putter today, and I’m just really happy to be on top.”
Robards was never really headed in the final, taking the lead from the first. Simonich evened the contest on the third, but from there, it was all one-way traffic, with Robards going on a bride streak from the 5th to establish a four-hole lead by the turn.
The contest wasn’t over though, and Robards knew his opponent, Simonich, an accomplished North Dakota State University team member, would come back.
“Ian played behind me at our conference championships, so I have met him before,” Robards said.
“When he started charging, I was like, ‘Here we go. This is the golf I know Ian can play.’ I just kept my head down and kept playing my game. I made a heap of birdies on the front nine. Let’s just try and get a few more down that home stretch and close the door.”
Simonich chewed into Robard’s lead on the homeward stretch picking up wins on the 11th and 13th to tighten the contest.
The 16th proved to be the pivotal moment of the contest and when the North Dakota student stumped one in close, Robards knew it was time to take control.
“I said to Mom walking up there, ‘If there’s any putt to hole, this is the one to go in,'” Robards said. “After I cleaned my ball and stepped back, it was straight up the hole. All I had to do was hit it firm and keep it solid up the middle.”
Robards said winning the tournament at his first attempt was a very special feeling, especially with his mum, Karen, onsite to see him succeed.
Doing it with Mom there means a lot to me,” he said. “Mom hadn’t seen me play golf in a couple of years. Either Dad would come with me, or she’d be too nervous. I told her she had to come out for the match play. Even though I know she was really nervous, to do it in front of Mom was pretty cool.”