A dramatic two-shot swing on the final hole has secured New South Welshman Josh Armstrong a second NSW Regional Open Series title in Dubbo.
Winner of the Murray Open almost two years ago, Armstrong was cruising towards a comfortable Western Open victory before a drama-fuelled final three holes saw the tournament decided on the 18th green.
Leading Newcastle’s Aaron Townsend by four strokes after making eagle at the par-5 10th, Armstrong dropped his guard for just a moment with a bogey on 11.
Townsend’s birdie resulted in a two-shot swing and a deficit of just two, a deficit that was halved again when Townsend made a fourth consecutive birdie at the par-5 12th.
The pair traded pars at 13, 14 and 15 where James Conran’s birdie saw him join Townsend at nine-under and just one stroke off the lead.
There was a second two-shot swing at the par-4 16th where Townsend’s birdie and Armstrong’s bogey after taking an unplayable lie saw the lead change hands for the first time all day, leaving Armstrong with one shot to make up with just two holes to play.
“I knew I had to make at least one birdie out of the last two holes. It was going to be difficult obviously, but it could be done,” Armstrong reasoned.
His tee shot on 17 was sent so far to the right that he played his second from beside the greenkeeper’s shed, a par save from six-feet keeping his fading hopes alive until the last.
He and Townsend both found the green with their tee shots at the 174-metre par-3 18th but not even Armstrong could have predicted what would unfold.
“They’re both good players so I was expecting them to make 3s and I’d have to hole mine to get into a playoff,” Armstrong said of his 18-foot birdie putt that would ultimately prove the difference.
“When I saw Aaron roll his past a little firm I thought now was a good time to put a little bit of pressure on.
“Thankfully I hit exactly the putt I wanted to and it dropped in for me.
“I didn’t think that Aaron was going to three-putt or that Jimmy was going to make bogey.”
The third two-shot swing in the space of eight holes was enough for Armstrong (69) to claim a one-stroke win at 10-under, Townsend (68) sharing second place with Matt Millar (65) and Jordan Mullaney (68).
Conran (71) was outright fifth, one stroke clear of James Mee (70), Corey Lamb (66), Matthew Stieger (70), Jason Perkin (70) and Jackson Bugdalski (70).
There was a consolation for both Townsend and Conran who, along with Mullaney, secured their place in the $400,000 Play Today NSW Open at Rich River in March.
Click here for final scores and prize money.