Manawatu amateur Josh Munn had a scintillating six under par 66 to win The Greater Lake Macquarie Golf Championships at Belmont, near Newcastle in New South Wales, by three shots yesterday.
Relishing the rainy, sodden conditions, the 21-year-old charged home on the back nine with an eagle three on the 437-metre par-five 10th hole and birdies on the 12th, 13th and 17th to beat his fellow overnight leaders Brett Drewitt (Long Reef, Australia) and Nathan Kimsey (Lincolnshire, England), who both had rounds of three-under-par 69 to finish on 12 under par.
Munn started with a bogey on the first hole but then birdied holes two and three. He sank a 5m putt to save his par on the final hole for the win and was swamped by congratulations from other members of the New Zealand team.
After the win, he said he was in awe of following the footsteps of other winners of the championships, golfers such as Peter O'Malley and many other successful professionals.
"I was so much in the zone I didn't feel the rain," said the New Zealand representative, who finished runner-up at the Argentine Amateur late in 2012. "This is easily my most important win."
The likeable lad from Palmerston North made history in 2012 when he became the first amateur to win two titles on the Charles Tour.
He will not get the chance to compete this week at the Lawnmaster Classic, on his home track at the Manawatu Golf Club, as he has been selected to represent New Zealand in the inaugural Ten Nations Cup in South Africa.
He said he had no immediate plans to turn professional but wanted to play against the best amateurs in the United States and Europe.
In fourth place on 11 under was 19-year-old Queenslander Cameron Smith.
Heavy rain caused two delays during the day when several greens flooded but the course recovered and play resumed.
The joint overnight leaders went toe to toe through the first seven holes today, all three at 10 under, but at the par-four 347m 8th hole, Kimsey took a one-shot lead with a remarkable birdie.
He found trouble off the tee and was stymied behind a tree off the fairway but managed to pitch to within 3m and sank the putt.
He turned at 11 under, equal with Smith who was playing in the group ahead and one shot up on Drewitt and Munn. But Munn took charge with his eagle on the 10th and was never headed, carding 31 for the back nine.
Seventeen-year-old Queenslander Viraat Badhwar, who migrated with his parents from India six years ago, finished on seven under for the tournament after carding 66 yesterday.
Badhwar, who plays out of the Indooroopilly Club in Brisbane, has just won a scholarship to Stanford University in the United States.
- Manawatu Standard
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