Lucas Higgins scored the biggest win of his fledgling professional career by taking out the $50,000 Upper Hunter Open today at Muswellbrook Golf Club.
In a final round nail-biter, the 23-year-old from Murwillumbah in the NSW Northern Rivers prevailed by two shots from the overnight leader, David Bransdon, with rounds of 64 and 69, to finish at 11-under-par.
In a tie for third, a further shot back was the group of Jordan Mullaney, Josh Clarke, Coffs Harbour’s Andrew Campbell and Higgin’s final round playing partner, Jay Mackenzie.
The win is Higgins’ first tournament victory after collecting an impressive four pro-ams since turning professional in April last year.
Fittingly for Higgins, the win came on the course his father, David, played as a child.
“Dad played all his junior golf here at Muswellbrook, so it was a real thrill to have him on the bag caddying for me this week, too,” A victorious Higgins grinned.
Higgins fared best on a day when most of the leading contenders made bright starts. Birdies on the 3rd, 6th, and 8th saw him quickly catch, then overtake first-round leader Bransdon and turn for home with a two-shot buffer.
Higgins’ lead soon evaporated, however, with Bransdon slotting back-to-back birdies. Sadly for the Victorian, it was to be as far as his challenge would go. The veteran dropped a shot on 13, and when Higgins rolled in a birdie on the par-five 15th to Bransdon’s bogey, the tournament was effectively over, much to a relived Higgins’ delight.
“It’s a nice feeling to play a bit more of a formal tournament and get it done,” Higgins said post-round.
“I just kept hitting it solid and I made the putts that I needed to to keep the momentum.”
“I didn’t quite hit it as well on the back nine, and it was a case of steer the ship home a bit, but there were some nerves.
“I was only one shot ahead with four to go, but then suddenly I was three ahead with three to go, so that gave me a bit of breathing room.”
With this now win number five on the domestic scene, and with a place in the PLAY TODAY NSW Open secure, Higgins said the prizemoney would be a welcome and timely boost to his plans for the remainder of the year.
“I’ll play most of the regular season here and hopefully get into the Open and PGA in late November. After that, I’m looking at Asian Tour School at the end of the year, so this prizemoney certainly helps get me over there; that’s the goal.
Trio Book Open Slots
Winner Lucas Higgins, Runner Up David Bransdon, and Coffs Harbour-based professional Andrew Campbell have booked their place in the 2023 PLAY TODAY NSW Open.
Although disappointed to have not secured the win, overnight Leader Bransdon was still pleased to know his position in next year’s Championship was locked away.
“Yeah sort it was tough, I didnt play so good and didn’t hole a lot today. I wouldv’e been borderline to get into the NSW Open so it’s nice to have it especially towards the end of the tour season,” Bransdon said.
After shooting the low round of the day, a six under par 66, Coffs Harbour-based Professional Andrew Campbell was equally thrilled to know his place in the 92-year-old Championship was also secure.
“I’ve played a few (NSW Opens) already, but it’s good to lock in a spot. I played some solid golf today shooting six under, so hopefully, I can take that into the rest of the year and into next year’s Open.”