November 2024 – Murray Downs Golf Resort

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Sunday Showdown – the five to watch

Five players, three shots, one Kel Nagle Cup. That’s the equation for what promises to be a thrilling finale at the AVJennings NSW Open tomorrow.

Storylines abound among the final quintet of golfers, Justin Warren and Min Woo Lee leading the charge at 17-under with Josh Younger and Travis Smyth a shot further back.

Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club course record holder Andrew Dodt rounds out the top five at 14-under, but as the most experienced of the group, and with an 11-under 61 already under his belt, he is far from out of the equation.

The bulk of the interest will be in the three young guns who have impressed enormously through the first 54 holes and will play together in the final group.
21-year-old rookie Min Woo Lee hasn’t yet celebrated a year as a professional but has already made an impression on some of the best players in the world.

For all his undeniable talent, though, there is one glaring gap in his resume: victories.

His biggest and most celebrated win came three years ago in the US Junior Amateur tournament.

The honour roll for that particular event reads like a Who’s Who of the game’s legends, from Johnny Miller and Tiger Woods (three times) to David Duval and Jordan Spieth.

But Lee has yet to parlay that extraordinary success into more titles and the longer that remains the case – despite his tender years – the more the pressure will slowly build.

Having said that, a win tomorrow could well open the proverbial flood gates for one of the most gifted players of recent memory.

While Lee appears destined for the stars fellow young gun Travis Smyth is a player cut from a different cloth.

Smyth has spent two years plying his trade in Asia and is a better and more hardened player for it.

Crucially, Smyth is also a winner having taken out the 2017 Northern Territory PGA Championship while still an amateur.

A product of the Golf NSW high-performance program and proud Wollongong native, a win would not only be a significant personal achievement but a big confidence boost ahead of some important late-season tournaments.

Smyth needs a good finish to his season in Asia to ensure he keeps his card and regardless of the outcome at Twin Creeks will be a better player for the experience.

Perhaps the least known of the final five is Justin Warren whose journey to the final group has been unorthodox to say the least.

A former standout amateur he earned his Australian Tour card at the end of last year but returned to college in the US to finish his degree before embarking on a professional career.

He has unfinished business with the NSW Open after being close to the lead in 2014 but enduring a difficult Sunday and finishing well back.

That experience was key to his play Saturday, he said, where his second 64 of the week leapfrogged him to a share of the lead.

If his swing holds up as well Sunday as it did Saturday, he might be hard to beat and that disappointment of five years ago will no doubt be a great motivator.

Flying under the radar despite being just one shot behind is first-round leader Josh Younger.

Younger might best be described as a journeyman pro and has been quietly impressive all week.

Never a winner on the PGA Tour of Australasia tomorrow will be a big moment for Younger. He will be feeling the heat, but he may never get a better opportunity, a fact he will be well aware of.

The final and perhaps most intriguing character among the final five is Andrew Dodt.

A proven winner at the top level, Dodt would love nothing more than to add a NSW Open title to his Queensland Open victory of 2014.

Having lived in both states there would be a certain symmetry should he achieve the feat though they low scoring nature of the tournament is, by his own admission, less suited to his game.

Regardless of the outcome, it is an intriguing cast of characters that will take to the course tomorrow, and no matter who wins it will be a special moment.

And for those of us watching on it is sure to be entertainment of the highest order.



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