It takes unwavering mental fortitude to believe that a win will come, especially when the gap immediately following your most recent success is a decade.
Back in 2007 when Jason Scrivener won the Australian Junior Championship (his most recent win), Sydney’s median house price was $521,000, Tiger Woods still had a Major win ahead of him (2008 US Open), and John Howard was Australian Prime Minister (we’ve since had four).
Day 3: They’re all chasin’ Jason
The course: Twin Creeks bares its teeth
The greens: ‘Best greens I’ve putted on in years’
The architect: How Marsh built his masterpiece
Still, the 28-year-old knew his time would come; he just didn’t know when.
As he said yesterday: “I’m not putting any pressure on myself right now. I’m not going to deny that I’m not thinking about it (a win), but I don’t feel like I have anything to lose. I feel it will happen, I’ve put myself in that position enough, to know that I’m good enough.”
Thankfully, he doesn’t have to face that question again.
Scrivener’s front nine of this morning did all the damage. Although a late surge came from Victorian Lucas Herbert who trimmed the lead to three with a birdie on 11 and eagle on 12, Scrivener had already broken the backs of all challengers. Eventually, the West Australian cantered home to enjoy his first professional win with a final round of 65 to win the NSW Open by six shots at 24-under.
After a decade of near-misses, and with the constant chatter about when that elusive win might come, it actually became a cakewalk.
“It was a weird feeling those last couple of holes,” he said.
“The first was brutal, I had to stay so focused. Even though I was playing nicely, you never know, especially around here where there’s eagles and birdies to be made but also bogeys and doubles. Only when I got to 17 did I really relax.”
Rather than enter next weekj’s Australian Open in Sydney brimming with confidence, Scrivener will be in Hong Kong playing in the UBS Hong Kong Open, the opening event of the 2018 European Tour season.
Scrivener’s approach to Twin Creeks was disciplined; clean, and methodical. It was mature and responsible.
He found par-savers when he needed them, a tricky four-footer on the third this morning was immediately rewarded with a birdie at four. It released something, a run of four birdies on the front, and then successive birdies on 10 and 11 and the 15 and 16 to put the matter beyond doubt.
Where Herbert kept challenging, Queenslander Daniel Nesbit – our Friday night leader – fell away with a round that will disappoint him. In the honourable push for birdies, he made mistakes to finish with a 75 and a tie for sixth.
Yesterday Scrivener said he thought about winning, knowing it would eventually come. Asked what the feeling was now, five minutes after triumphing at Twin Creeks, he said: “It feels pretty good” (laughs).
“I thought it was going to be harder than what it was. It looked a lot easier than it was. It was hard work. It’s hard to win,” he said.
“It’s nice to play that well under pressure. I’ll definitely put that in the memory bank.”
Herbert tried to mount a challenge but said Scrivener was in a class of his own.
“I’m pretty proud of myself playing the way I would’ve liked in the last round,” the Victorian said.
“ I said to Jason that’s probably some of the best golf I’ve ever seen. In those conditions, last round pressure – he didn’t miss a shot. So, I’m not too unhappy. Second’s pretty good.”
Victorian Ben Eccles ‘defended’ his 2015 title valiantly, and will be pleased to carry his excellent form into the Australian Open next weekend. Eccles was expected to challenge for a second Kel Nagle Cup, but an outward nine of 38 (two over) took its toll. Even though he fought back with a string of back-nine birdies, it was too late to seriously challenge.
Visiting American Kramer Hickok was never going to contend for the Cup after his third round 75, but he fought to a four-under 68 today to tick all the boxes on his first pro tournament in Australia. He also heads to The Australian next week with confidence.
The early challenges came from Japanese amateur Tukami Kanaya, who got within two shots of Scrivener through the front nine, but double bogeys at 15 and 16 ended his chances, including the title of lowest amateur.
That was shared between Queenslander Chris Crabtree and NSW amateur Blake Windred, who had the equal low round of the day (along with Scrivener) at -7 in the biggest results of their young careers. They will both head to Monday qualifying to see if they can grab the final spots in the Australian Open.
Wunderkind Brett Coletta silenced any question about his capability and application to competitive golf with a six-under 66 to be in a tie for 18th in his first event from a self-imposed break back in August, while Jack Wilson also came home with a 66 to finish the tournament at -9. If he could remove his third round 76 from the equation, the Victorian has had a week that should give him a lot of confidence.
Veteran West Australian Brett Rumford has also carded a 66 which indicates he might be a threat at the Australian Open next week in Sydney. Rumford finished the back nine with five birdies and a lone bogey to complete his low round of the week.
-24 J Scrivener
-18 L Herbert
-16 B Eccles
-14 B Windred (am)
-14 C Crabtree (am)
-13 K Hickok
-13 J Arnold
-13 J Felton
-13 Min Woo Lee (am)