by Michael Court, The Golfer, December 2005
For once, the scoreboard didn’t tell the tale.
Michael Wright led all the way to win the $120,000 Proton New South Wales Open Championship at Liverpool last month [20 November 2005].
Yet his two-stroke win had plenty of drama and local hero Brad McIntosh chased him all the way.
Even when they came to the final hole with the two-shot margin still intact, left-hander McIntosh played an absolutely superb shot that covered the flag and offered the chance of a birdie and a possible playoff should Wright take take a bogey.
When Wright tugged his tee-shot a little left and just off the putting surface, the crowd could sense something dramatic.
Wright later remarked that he fully expected McIntosh to make his putt.
After all, the south-coast ace had shown his remarkable skills with a 59 the previous week in the Queensland PGA.
“I knew I had to make a birdie to make sure of victory,” Wright said.
“And when I hit my putt, I thought it was a good one but it was a tough pin placement and halfway there it just took a right-hand turn and went a fair way from the hole.”
McIntosh stroked his down-hiller and for two and a half of the three metres it looked in before slipping by the hole and a further metre and a half down the hill.
It didn’t matter that he then missed the return putt up hill because Wright already had the luxury of being able to two-putt for certain victory.
That secured the $18,000 first-prize cheque for the unflappable Queenslander, who earned an automatic start in the Australian Open with his win.
Leading most of the way to win the richest event on the Von Nida Tour didn’t faze him in the least.
“I suppose I should be thinking about the money, because I’ve got none,” he joked.
Wright’s final-round 70, coupled with earlier round of 66-67-68 gave him a two stroke win over McIntosh with South Australian Adam Bland and Victorian Cameron Percy a shot further back.
“All I could think about towards the end was playing in the Open, the PGA and the Masters in the next few weeks,” he said.
“This win meant a lot because it showed I can win more than once.”
Wright had to stave off ‘mini’ charges from McIntosh for most of the final three days.
It seemed every time the former Liverpool pennant player got close enough to challenge for the title he gave a shot or two back and bombed his chances.
“I was giving it my all today and I really let loose with a few drives as well,” McIntosh said.
“I had to take on the flag at the 18th to give myself a shot.”
“Full marks to Wrighty, he’s just played awesome golf all week and deserved to win it.”