Sensational Golf Challenge NSW Open champion Harrison Crowe faces a tricky decision to make after the celebrations die down from his win at Concord Golf Club today.
Top-flight amateur Crowe’s win makes him eligible to turn professional and take up full membership of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia immediately.
Although he’s previously said that he is in no hurry to make the turn, the implications have become very real.
“It’s something to think about,” he said today as he was embraced by his parents Tony and Shaunagh on the 18th green.
“I don’t want to try and dwell on it too much now. I think I’m going enjoy my night. I’ve got an early flight tomorrow which I won’t be crash hot for out to Adelaide (where he is playing another amateur event next week). It’s something to talk over with the parents, the coaches, team, and go from there.”
Crowe, 20, has already had a dominant amateur career since taking up golf as a boy, knocking it around Bardwell Valley public and then later, St Michael’s under John Serhan’s tutelage. He’s the reigning NSW Amateur champion and Victorian Amateur Champion and he won the Master of the Amateurs title in Melbourne this summer as well.
If he turns professional immediately, he will forego some big amateur events, including the Australian Men’s Amateur at Cranbourne outside Melbourne in a couple of weeks’ time.
But there are a handful of tournaments remaining on the Australasian Tour this season, starting with the National PGA Classic at The National in Victoria from 5 April, worth $200,000.
Crowe was unable to accept the $72,000 first prize for today’s Open win as an amateur, although the rules have been loosened by the R&A and the USGA recently. The cheque went to Blake Windred, who was runner-up.
But he will retain the memories forever.
It was a dramatic final day on a rain-soaked course, and not even the glorious sunshine could hide the fact that there was water everywhere on the course.
Crowe started with a share of the lead with Blake Collyer and immediately birdied the first three holes, producing an exquisite chip at the first, and hitting it close at the second and third holes. Collyer, meanwhile, was struggling after his opening tee shot hit a tree on the left and went no more than 150 metres.
Crowe turned in 30 and was four shots ahead at that point, but then came his reality check. At the 10th, he made his first and only bogey of the tournament, going through the back of the green and failing to get up and down. At 11, he lipped out for birdie and again at 15, an awful horseshoe. Blake Windred came hard with 64, posting 17-under par overall to take the clubhouse lead, and now, Crowe knew exactly what was required as he stepped to the 17th tee: two pars for the win.
At 17, he made a regulation par but then at 18, his drive turned over hard towards the trees on the left. By a stroke of fate, the ball stopped a few metres short of real trouble.
“It was a lucky break to have a shot,” he would say later. “I feel like I deserved it after the horseshoe at 15. A little bit of luck, when it goes your way, you take it.”
Crowe is impressive. He hits it long and putts well, but now he had to punch his approach under a tree limb with a restricted follow-through. He did it beautifully, up to the back, left edge of the green. The whole crowd had gravitated to the 18th green, and they were three and four deep as he contemplated a 10-metre uphill putt for birdie, the nerves jangling hard. “I don’t know if I kept the putter still,” he said. “I just said ‘hit it hard’. It’s not quick up there, and try and hole it’.’’
He almost did. The ball trickled just left of the cup, leaving him a tap-in for the win.
“I can’t describe it,” he said. “So good. I really actually settled down after about six. I felt all right after the first tee shot and really knuckled down. Then to turn five-under (par), but not getting up-and-down on 11 kind of creeped me a little bit, and 17 and 18 I’ve never been so nervous in my life.”