Moorhead's emotional win
Grant Moorhead might have shot four 69s to win the LawnMaster Classic but it was "a 50-footer" on the 11th hole yesterday which saw him home.
When he doffed his cap on the 18th, he was 12 under par and had seen off dogged 19-year-old Hamilton amateur Luke Toomey by a solitary shot for his first Charles Tour victory.
As for that putt, he hit it up a steep tier to the pin at the back and felt it was going left, only to hold its line and - plop.
"It was quite a tough shot but it never looked like missing," Moorhead said.
His name will sit nicely on the trophy alongside Campbell, Lee, Wilkinson and co, an appropriate first-time professional winner of the swept-up $40,000 LawnMaster.
Moorhead, now 42, was part of New Zealand amateur golf's greatest moment, winning the Eisenhower Trophy in Vancouver in 1992 with Michael Campbell, Stephen Scahill and Phil Tataurangi.
Moorhead spoke with emotion yesterday as he cradled the trophy and the winner's cheque of $7200. His caddie was his father, Tom, who had been with him throughout his turbulent career, and children Olivia and Jackson saw their father win for the first time.
"This has been a long time coming," he said. "It's pretty special to be up here.
"I was in a bit of disarray at the end of last year."
Now coaching at Westown in New Plymouth, he went to a former Taranaki pro now in Cairns, Graham Bolton, for help with his swing, and now he is back.
As an amateur, Moorhead played in lots of LawnMasters, his first as a 17-year-old and was once runnerup.
"I'm pretty elated; the day seemed to go so fast out there."
He has played many Charles Tour events for lots of thirds and fourths and two seconds, once in a playoff against Josh Geary at Tauranga and another at Muriwai when Manawatu's Josh Munn won in 2011.
Moorhead's most recent tour win was the Tahiti Open in 2011.
The gallery swelled to close to 500 yesterday and Moorhead noticeably tightened up, especially on the 17th with a pitch and a short putt.
He was having to fend off Toomey who was playing like a professional who wouldn't go away and who will be a threat when the NZ amateur is held at Hokowhitu in April.
Toomey birdied the par-5 15th to Moorhead's par from the fairway bunker but Moorhead held on with pars and Toomey just saw his birdie putt on 18 slide by; it would have forced a playoff.
Toomey had come out of the chasers on Saturday to blast a course record, 9-under-par 63 (10 birdies, one bogey) to lead another surprise Waikato rocket (Nick Coxon) by one overnight and Moorhead by two.
Toomey, who plays golf 40 to 50 hours a week and works part-time, said he had been in the same situation when he lost the NZ strokeplay last year to Vaughan McCall.
"This time I was determined to stick in there and make Grant win it," he said. "I'm just stoked."
Coxon, only 16 and with a fast hand action, had shot 65 on Saturday but was nervous yesterday. He tied for fourth with last year's winner Harry Bateman.
Geary was an audibly unhappy soul all week, and errant ball-striking at the tight Manawatu course means bogeys; he came home with three of them yesterday to finish tied for eighth at 7 under.
- © Fairfax NZ News