St Michael’s young gun Harrison Crowe has won the Golf Challenge NSW Open at Concord by one shot a fitting win for the most in-form amateur golfer Australia may have seen in a long time.
The confident 20-year-old might have wobbled at the end, but held his nerve long enough in the final round, shooting a four under par round of 67 to finish at 18 under par.
His nearest rival, Newcastle’s Blake Windred, had earlier posted a final-round 64 to finish 17 under par.
Crowe came up the 18th hole needing par to hold on, and he duly delivered despite pulling his drive close to the trees on the left.
The sun came out in western Sydney and although the course was still sodden, the pace was hot on the final day at Concord.
In a sign he wasn’t overawed by the situation, Crowe calmy birdied his first three holes to establish a handy buffer at the top of the leaderboard after beginning the day as joint-leader with Victorian Blake Collyer.
The challengers came though; Western Australian Brady Watt, playing several groups in front, made his move about the turn, birdieing the 8th, 10th and eagling the 11th. Another on the 13th left him the man most likely.
Crowe’s St. Michael’s teammate John Lyras also went on a charge, with an opening eagle and two birdies, turning 31 and getting to within three of the lead.
The move of the day, however, came from Daniel Gale, who went on a tear birdieing his first four holes before picking up an eagle on the 15th. birdies on 18, 1 and 2 saw him vault to nine under for his round. Gale shot a tournament low 62.
But Crowe was not about to slow down. On Friday, after he took the lead, he had said that he was intent upon winning; not just a top-10.
After missing good chances at the fifth and sixth holes, he birdied the par-five eighth from close range and then knocked another birdie putt in from three metres at the ninth to turn in 30.
Then the pressure started to mount. At 10, he made his first bogey of the tournament from behind the green, then he lipped out with birdie putts at 11 and 15. Nothing wanted to drop, and Windred was charging with a string of birdies and an eagle at the 11th hole on his way to a 64.
But Crowe, who becomes the sixth amateur to win the NSW Open title, kept his head.
His summer of excellence includes wins in the Australian Master of The Amateurs, The NSW & Victoria Amateur Crowns, and his first NSW Open title.
The win also lifts Crowe into some rarified company; he is the first amateur to hold both the NSW Open and Amateur crowns concurrently since the great Jim Ferrier did in 1937 and 1938. He also becomes one of only five golfers in the 91-year history of the event to achieve the NSW Amateur/Open Double.
Winners of the double include (amateur year noted first):
Ben Eccles 2013 – 2015
Peter O’Malley 1986 – 2010
Tony Gresham 1970/72/82 – 1975
Jim Ferrier 1931/34/37/38 – 33/35/36/37/38.