Victorian Josh Younger has broken through for his maiden professional win after a dramatic two-hole playoff against Shellharbour youngster Travis Smyth at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club in Sydney’s west today.
Younger, 35, hit one of the shots of his life into the 18th green for birdie to become the 2019 AVJennings NSW Open champion, ending his drought of near misses after three previous runner-up finishes in his PGA career.
It was an emotional victory for the boy from Bacchus Marsh, having overcome a double bogey in regular play on the 18th to relinquish his lead, only to find himself in a playoff as the young challengers, Picton’s Justin Warren, WA’s Min Woo Lee missed their opportunities.
When he lifted the Kel Nagle Cup in the late afternoon sun here at the foot of Blue Mountains it was through a sea of tears as friends rejoiced victory; courageous in the sense that he held back every challenger and his own nerves to lift the biggest title of his career in the week’s toughest conditions.
The 18th here at Twin Creeks proved the ultimate finishing hole as Warren threw away his chances with a wayward approach shot in regular play to miss the playoff, and Min Woo Lee’s putter failed to fire on the final day despite his brilliance throughout the week. Smyth hung tough and took the playoff to extra holes, but it took one of the best approach shots all week to finalise the matter.
“It’s a relief. I’ve been (on tour) 10 years … it’s just so hard to win,” said Younger.
“Normally when you make six down the last it’s all over, you need things to go your way. But it’s a massive relief.”
Younger said the wind defended the course making birdies difficult to come by.
“When the wind got up today it was a completely different golf course,” Younger said.
“It explains why players didn’t get too far forward.”
Where Twin Creeks was at the mercy of the field at times during the week, including the record-breaking 61 shot by Andrew Dodt on Friday, for this final round it demanded perfection to stay out of trouble.
Warm winds quickened up the course throughout the round, as it did through the first three rounds, but it became clear early that super-low numbers would be the exception rather than the rule.
Victorian Ben Eccles handled the conditions the best however to shoot the day’s lowest round of 65, with six birdies and an eagle on the short par-four 12th. West Australian Brody Martin and former winner Peter Lonard both shot 66 on a day when accuracy into the wind was paramount.
Andrew Martin had a clean sheet today with five birdies (67) to finish in the top 10, and will take away some good form into next week’s Australian Open in Sydney after holing out on the 2nd hole early this week for his third professional hole-in-one.
Nathan Barbieri found form again in the final round, carding a four-under 68 to finish the leading amateur at -6 overall and tied for 35th.