Concord Golf Club, 17 – 20 March 2022

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HAYES: When Teen Dreams Become Reality

Harrison Crowe took a phone call from his coach John Serhan on Friday night.

Less than a couple of hours after his ace student had nabbed a share of the halfway lead in the Golf Challenge New South Wales Open, Serhan was a tad surprised to hear a dull roar in the background.

“Where are you, mate?” Serhan asked.

“I’m at the club,” came the reply, almost in a `where else would I be?’ tone.

Crowe was tucking into dinner at Bardwell Valley Golf Club, in southern Sydney suburbia, where he took his first steps towards his history-making victory today under club professional Ross Forsythe.

Flash forward seven or so years and he made the move to Serhan at nearby St Michael’s.

As fate would have it, a young girl with stars in her eyes by the name of Stephanie Kyriacou had drifted into that same orbit.

Serhan knew he had something special; he just wasn’t sure it was this special.

Kyriacou took the first bold public steps aged just 19 – winning the Australian Ladies Classic as an amateur at Bonville in early 2020 before “going global”.

And now, her “little” mate, still just 20 himself, has done something equally remarkable – going wire-to-wire at Concord to become the first man since the legendary Jim Ferrier in 1938 to hold the NSW Amateur and Open crowns concurrently.

It’s tough to predict the level of partying at St Michael’s and Bardwell Valley tonight, but let’s just say Crowe probably won’t have to buy a beer at either club until he’s 50 or so, give or take a few frothies.

Serhan was understandably a ball of raw emotion, tears welling in his eyes as he watched his young charge hold court like a seasoned pro, even though he’s yet to take that career-changing plunge.

“This is so good,” he said as a tear welled in his eye.

“I’m so happy, I can’t believe it.

“We’ve been together since he was about 12. I was just looking the other day and reminiscing back when we had little Steph Kyricaou and little Harrison Crowe …

“My how they’ve grown into something that St Michael’s and myself are just so, so immensely proud of.

“My heart’s about to pop out of my chest. I haven’t had a smile this big for a long time.”

Serhan used part of the rain-enforced lay-day on Saturday to have what turned into a prophetic chat with Crowe.

“I said to him, `Mate, you just have to know that there are going to be people surging out of the pack at you, so you have to jump out of the barriers and don’t be timid or play protective golf’,” Serhan said.

“And he just lit up and said, `You beauty John, that’s just how I love it’.

Crowe carried out the instructions to a tee, effectively sealing the tournament in the first two hours of the final round, playing the front nine in five-under-par 30.

“He went out there to make as many birdies as he could and he flew out of the barriers so well,” Serhan said.

“It got tight towards the end … and when his (birdie) putt rimmed on 15, I thought, `Please God, come on’.

“But then he just toughed it out to the end and it was so good.”

Serhan said Crowe had impressed in many ways.

“His skill set is undeniable – and he has so much flare.

“But I’m really, really pleased with the way he carried himself throughout and the way he spoke afterwards.

“You don’t have to go far to realise that Harrison Crowe is really well liked, almost universally, for a very good reason.

“He’s been helping me with the young kids these days, and just keeps saying hello to the members.

“This is obviously all fantastic, but this won’t change him. He’s always kept his humility … and I’m sure this won’t change him.”

It was natural of the assembled media to ask Crowe about his professional intentions and, predictably of a good team, he gave the same effective answer as his coach.

Admittedly, it would be more of a question now than it had been before this extraordinary result. But moreover, Serhan, parents Shaunaugh and Tony and others around his Golf NSW posse would decide when the dust settles in a few days.

“We have a plan,” Serhan said.

“And truthfully I believe we’ll stick to that plan.

“He has some goals left in amateur golf that got knocked around a bit by Covid – like everyone else, we lost a couple of years of US Ams and British Ams and driving up the world rankings in amateur status.

“But mostly he really wants to go to the Eisenhower Cup and represent Australia and then go to the Asia Pacific (Amateur).

“In the end, we’ll talk to his parents and Harrison and see what we all want to do.

“For now, though, we know we’ve got a ticket straight into the professional ranks if we need one, maybe at the end of the year, who knows?”

Crowe was having his first full experience of being pulled in 2000 directions after a very public and historic win when I nabbed him for a one word question: “Eisenhower?”

Through a beaming smile came a reply which he surely would never have dared dream when he took his junior clubs to St Michael’s.

“I’m well on the way to that now, aren’t I?

“I don’t know what to think just yet. That’s really what I want, but right now I just really want a beer.”

Here’s cheers to the end of a great week, but more so to the start of an epic story.

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