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Australian Boys champ Hodge adds NZ title

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 08/09/2012

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After a recent run of success, Tyler Hodge knew what to do at the New Zealand age group championships as he clinched the title on the last hole in Northland yesterday.

Hodge was tied for the lead with Chris Charlton going into yesterday's final round at the Waipu Golf Club, and it took until the 18th hole before he could snatch the win by one shot to finish on a three under par 213.

The 17-year-old from Levin has recently won the Australian Boys Championship, the Waikato Winter Strokeplay, the Horowhenua Open, the Kapi Tareha in Napier and the Challenge Cup tournament at Rangatira.

"I've been hitting the ball consistently," Hodge said. "Probably maybe just a bit of experience when I step up to the tee. I know I have as much experience if not more than the other people."

His experience counted in the end as Charlton, who told Hodge it was the first time he had been right up there in a tournament, lost his lead over the last three holes.

"I didn't play as well as I have been," Hodge said, "just at the end he had a one-shot lead with three holes to play. He bogeyed 16, we both parred 17 and he bogeyed the 18th."

Hodge had led after day one where he shot a three under par 69 and hit a even par 72 on Thursday before shooting another par in the final round for the win.

He didn't doubt himself, even when Charlton had stolen the lead from him and it went down to the wire in windy conditions, and felt he had been able to force a playoff at the very least.

"I was one of the favourites coming in. Pretty cool to be labelled as one of the favourites. Everyone had a equal amount of chance. Seven or eight people had a chance."

After his win at the Australian age group champs, Hodge has potentially become the first person to win both titles.

"They're pretty sure I'm the first to do it. Not totally sure but they said ‘we're pretty sure he's the first'."

It is believed no New Zealand golfer has won both titles in the same year so Hodge's name will go in the record books.

There wasn't much time to celebrate though, as he was leaving for Scotland today to compete in the Duke of York Young Players' championship.

He comes home for a week off before competing at the Tauranga Open, a Charles Tour event, which starts at the end of the month.

Manawatu's Trent Munn had a share of sixth place as he finished three over on 219 and Palmerston North's Rhys Harold was tied for 12th on 221.

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- Manawatu Standard

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