Daniel Gale has cruised to a resounding five-shot win in the NSW Regional Open Series – South Coast Open, Mollymook today.
The Castle Hill gun was never headed in the final round, adding a clinical five under par 67 to his course-record opening 66 for an 11-under-par two-round total on the way to becoming just the second two-time winner of the NSW Regional Open series.
Alone in second place was the series’ other ‘two-time‘ winner, Canberran Matthew Millar, whose final-round five-under effort included two hole-out eagles on a withering back nine run home.
Victorian Kyle Michel and another Sydneysider, Alex Simpson, shared third place at four under, while James Grierson, Lucas Higgins and Jay Mackenzie rounded out the top five at two under.
The tournament, however, always belonged to Gale.
After starting the day with a two-shot buffer, it was going to be a tall ask on the testing Mollymook layout for anyone just to catch – and hopefully overtake – the round one leader.
And Gale wasn’t about to let anyone even have a sniff of a chance. He put the field on notice with a birdie on his opening hole to get to seven under.
A dropped shot on the short par three 5th saw Gale drop back to six under, and back within sight of a few of the chasers The early snafu turned out to be his only blemish for the day, though, and sparked by the mistake, Gale responded with birdies on the 6th, 8th, and 15th, before finishing in style with back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th.
“They say winning is tough, but I was very much in control of my game out there today,” A jubilant Gale said.
“I don’t know what it is about these regional qualifiers, but I do have a good vibe about them.”
Gale exuded an air of confidence all day, and despite knowing a couple of players behind him making a move, he always knew the tournament outcome rested in his hands.
“Through nine, I checked the leader board, and I think I had a four-shot lead, but on the 13th, I looked again, and Matty (Millar) was only three behind, and James(Grierson) was two.
“I could’ve gone for green in two, so I just layed up and played smart, aggressive golf.”
“I kept it in the fairway and kept it as stress-free as possible.”
Grierson came closest to catching the dominant Gale when he got within a couple of shots of the lead but was left rueing the lost opportunity to contend for the win late in the day.
“I was in complete control, but misjudged the wind on back-to-back holes, and made bogey every time,” Grierson lamented. “You can’t do that around here, you must keep the ball in the right spot.”
Gale was the man of the moment however, and when pressed about whether he liked to lead the way to victory or chase someone down, it was clear which approach he preferred.
“I like to lead, it’s what I put in the hard work for. And today, well a five shot win is pretty convincing argument, isn’t it? “
Trio Snare PLAY TODAY NSW Open Spots.
With Gale and Matt Millar already safely into next year’s PLAY TODAY NSW Open, the coveted places in the 2023 Championship went to a brace of players who have already tasted what it feels like to secure their spot via a Qualifying Series Event.
Kyle Michel, who finished at four under, was a relieved man to snare his spot in for an event he said would feel like a bit of a home game.
“I’m from Shepparton, so it’s only an hour or so away from home,” he smiled.” I’m looking forward to Rich River.”
“It’s a good finish to the year and it feels good to be playing tournaments again.”
Alexander Simpson grabbed a spot in the 2022 NSW Open in a similar fashion to today and was thrilled to be heading to next year’s championship.
“Looking forward to playing a bit more next year and this is a good tournament to work towards,” he smiled.” I played Rich River a long time ago, so I’ll get down early and familiarize myself with it again, but looking forward to it.”
Despite his travails on the back nine, Grierson ensured he was locked into the field for Rich River with a clutch par on the last hole of the day. Despite securing a tour card in May’s ISPS Handa PGA Tour Qualifying School, today’s finish did have a bit of a silver lining for the former NSW State team captain.
“It’s always nice. I don’t know where it will break down through the categories next year, so to lock it in now feels beautiful.”