Abel Eduard pulled the big surprise while Shyla Singh exacted some “revenge” after last year’s final heartbreak to win their respective New South Wales Amateur finals at Pennant Hills today.
Both 36-hole women’s and men’s finals ebbed and flowed, but the winners were full value in what amounts to breakthrough success in a national-level event.
Eduard, a member at Kew and Kingston Heath in Melbourne, had never been in a major amateur final but seemed far from daunted, even playing the defending champion and red-hot Harrison Crowe.
The powerhouse pair traded blows throughout the first 18, despite neither having much luck with the putter.
They halved the 19th, but Eduard had his birdie putt on the 20th lip in, and the tide turned quickly.
He won three holes on the trot from the 22nd and, in the blink of an eye, had established what turned into a match-winning lead.
Crowe, ever the warrior, muscled back a couple of holes with wins on the 28th and 29th and looked like he might run over his comparatively inexperienced opponent.
But the Victorian hung tough and played a series of great escape shots after his previously bulletproof driver went cold.
“I didn’t let it show, but my up and down from the bunker (on 13) … I was pretty pumped with that,” Eduard said.
“And then I just hung on a bit, to be honest.”
That included a spectacular lob wedge from the fringe on the short 14th and then closing with a par to win 2&1 after a curling approach around a tree to the 35th green.
“Yeah, there were a few good ones, I suppose. But that’s what happens when you lose control of your driver,” he said with a broad grin.
“It was really good to play well in a big final after a big week, too. And to do it against Crowey’is extra special because we all know how well he’s been playing.”
Attempting to become the only the 10th player to defend the men’s state amateur crown successfully, Crowe simply couldn’t buy a putt to kickstart one of his customary charges.
“I made nothing, but that’s not to take away from Abel, he played some great shots out there,” Crowe said. “But even on the holes I won, most of them were conceded and I just never really got the feel or the vision of the ball going in the hole with the putter and It just wouldn’t go in for me today.
“But the winner of these things always plays well late and that’s exactly what Abel did today, so you just shake hands and say,Well played’.”
Singh, 16, admitted after her 4&3 triumph over fellow Gold Coaster Godiva Kim that her loss in last year’s final to good friend Sarah Hammett had made her determined to leave a winner in 2023.
“Yeah, that hurt a bit. I probably played better in last year’s final to be honest, but I was more consistent today and that’s what mattered,” Singh said.
“I was really attacking in the morning round and made a lot of birdies, but I also made too many bogeys.
“So I changed tactics during the break and in the afternoon just played a little more (conservatively), really just going at the par-5s and it paid off.”
The Southport member had been two up through 16 in the morning round, but Kim sparked late and made two birdies to take lunch all square.
The 14-year-old Kim still had her nose in front after winning the 22nd hole with a par, but it was all Singh from then on.
The sweet-swinging left-hander won five of the next seven holes and birdied four of the five par-5s to live out her plans.
“I’m really pleased to get that win. I’ve been close a few times at (this level), but now I’ve done it and it feels good,” Singh said.
“I managed to play a few good shots when I needed to … and that’s the difference to last year.”