by Rod Morri
Popular Queensland golfer Jake McLeod has taken out the AVJennings NSW Open in style after a thrilling final round at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club in greater western Sydney.
McLeod, who shot a course record of 10-under-par 62 in the third round, took the title by two shots from Cameron John thanks to a Sunday 71.
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The 24-year-old’s maiden victory comes in his third year as a professional though he has been in contention several times in the past two seasons.
McLeod began the day with a four-shot lead over Queensland’s Blake Proverbs but that margin was cut to two when he dropped a shot at the second where Proverbs made birdie.
But it was late in the round where the real pressure was applied, 19-year-old rookie Cameron John making a charge to get within one shot with two holes to play.
John, a former Australian Junior Champion who is considered a good prospect by many, went to the turn in 4-under with five birdies against a lone bogey and continued the hot scoring on the back.
With McLeod treading water in the group behind, he birdied four holes in a six-hole stretch, including the 16th, and with the leader failing to birdie the par-5 15th just one shot separated the pair.
But he failed to get up and down from the front bunker at the par-3 17th to drop another shot then endured a heartbreaking three putt on the final green.
That dropped him two shots behind McLeod, who had made a bogey of his own at the 17th, and the young Queenslander duly closed out the tournament with a par at the last.
NSW state team member Blake Windred finished low amateur and T3 alongside Dylan Perry, Josh Younger and Jordan Mullaney at 15-under.
Harrison Endycott couldn’t find any momentum in the final round and slumped to a 1-over 73 and a share of 10th.
South Australia’s Max McCardle recorded an albatross two at the par-5 15th to record a 2-under 70 and finish T35 at 7-under.
“I had 240 metres to the flag, 221 to cover the front of the green and I hit a 2-iron that was just perfect,” he said.
“You can’t quite see the hole from back in the fairway and while I thought it would be close I never expected it to be in the hole.
“It’s my first one ever so I was pretty pleased. I put the date on the ball and put it back in the bag straight away and it will be going in a special place on display at home.”